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Whorf invents generative phonology?

After stumbling on Benjamin Lee Whorf's affiliation with the Theosophical Society, I read two articles that he contributed to the MIT Technology Review in 1940: "Science and Linguistics" in the April issue, and "Linguistics as an Exact Science" in the December issue. Something in the second article surprised me. Whorf gives a formal account of […]

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Calling Benjamin Lee Whorf

What do a baker, a shepherd, and a drummer have in common? You can add an orchestra conductor, Harry Potter, and a drill sergeant. Hint: this is in French.

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Candidate for careless Whorfian nonsense of the year

Earlier today, I discussed (or at least linked to) a serious econometric study arguing that the morphology of future time reference is meaningfully correlated — perhaps causally correlated — with the distribution of attitudes towards "willingness to take climate action" ("The latest on the Whorfian morphology of time"). A short time later, with the radio […]

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The latest on the Whorfian morphology of time

Take a look at Astghik Mavisakalyan, Clas Weber, and Yashar Tarverdi, "Future tense: how the language you speak influences your willingness to take climate action", The Conversation 3/7/2018, which is a re-presentation for a general intellectual audience of a technical paper by the same authors that appeared a month earlier,:Astghik Mavisakalyan, Yashar Tarverdi, and Clas Weber, […]

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Newt Gingrich, Whorfian theorist

Barbara Scholz died exactly two years ago today. Had she lived, I would have been drawing her attention to Newt Gingrich's latest YouTube video "We're Really Puzzled". Not because she would have liked this latest Gingrichian piece of Republican-oriented self-promotion (she would have hated it), but because he appears to be flirting with what she […]

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Whorfian Economics

[This is a guest post by Keith Chen.] Mark and Geoffrey were kind enough not only to write thoughtful columns on a recent working paper of mine here and here, but to invite me to write a guest post explaining the work. In the spirit of a non-linguist who’s pleased to be discovering this blog, […]

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Cultural diffusion and the Whorfian hypothesis

Geoff Pullum summarizes Keith Chen's view of "The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior" as follows ("Keith Chen, Whorfian economist", 2/9/2012): Chen […] thinks that if your language has clear grammatical future tense marking […], then you and your fellow native speakers have a dramatically increased likelihood of exhibiting high rates of obesity, smoking, drinking, […]

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Keith Chen, Whorfian economist

Language Log has been asked more than once to comment on an unpublished working paper by Yale economist Keith Chen that is discussed in various online sources, e.g. here and here, and most recently David Berreby's post at Big Think. Briefly, Chen's paper alleges that a certain simple grammatical property of languages correlates robustly with […]

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Whorfian tourism

We've often seen how pop-Whorfian depictions of linguistic difference rely on the facile "no word for X" trope — see our long list of examples here. Frequently the trope imagines a vast cultural gap between Western modernity and various exotic Others. The latest entry comes via Ron Stack, who points us to this television commercial […]

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Boroditsky on Whorfian navigation and blame

Several readers have sent me links to Lera Boroditsky's recent article in the Wall Street Journal, "Lost in Translation" (7/24/2010).  We've mentioned Prof. Boroditsky's work on LL several times, starting back in 2003, and so long-time readers won't be surprised to learn that I think this is an interesting popularization of solid work.  However, most […]

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100 words for the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

It's a trend: comix-ironic Whorfianism. Several readers have drawn my attention to the latest Diesel Sweeties:

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Pop-Whorfianism in the comics again

Alex Baumans and Eric Lechner independently sent in copies of today's Speed Bump, for our "Words for X" file:

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Betting on the poor boy: Whorf strikes back

According to The Economist, 4/2/2009, "Neuroscience and social deprivation: I am just a poor boy though my story's seldom told": THAT the children of the poor underachieve in later life, and thus remain poor themselves, is one of the enduring problems of society. Sociologists have studied and described it. Socialists have tried to abolish it […]

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