Sex, syntax, semantics

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Yesterday, those listening to NPR's Morning Edition heard a report by Robert Krulwich ("Shakespeare had roses all wrong") discussing the effects of grammatical gender on word-association norms, as investigated by Lera Boroditsky.

Morning Edition points listeners to "Boroditsky's essay on this subject, 'How Does Our Language Shape the Way We Think?' [which] is part of the soon-to-be published anthology What's Next? (Vintage Books, June 2009)". When we discussed the same work here on Language Log a few years ago ("Sapir/Whorf: Sex (pro) and Space (anti)", 11/19/2003), we linked to the original paper.


  1. David said,

    April 7, 2009 @ 10:50 am

    I expected to see something about this. It's a much more controversial claim to say that different languages exclude certain types of thinking and expression than it is to say that a particular language imposes on relatedness in a cognitive map (precedence vs. possibility). The only reason to be uneasy on the 'anti' side is the potential for reenforcement of lazy arguments in support of more controversial claims, the conclusions of the study themselves are difficult to argue with.

  2. Etl World News | THE PSYCHOLOGY OF GENDER. said,

    April 10, 2009 @ 8:26 pm

    […] solid than the usual pop-psych stuff that gets breathlessly touted by the media, and Language Log concurs (from that brief post you can get to their earlier, fuller discussion and a pdf file of her paper). […]

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