This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Vocabulary We Have Does More Than Communicate Knowledge. It Shapes What We Can Know

1601 words - 7 pages

Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf first hypothesized that language shapes what we can know. This theory has launched an evolution in the way we understand and view language as a component in the structure of our society, our relationships and our characteristics. George Orwell’s 1984 involved a dystopian government that modified English to remove some undesirable words, creating ‘Newspeak’, the reason being that by removing the words for ideas they could remove certain ideas completely. Since then, much research has been done on this interesting theory to suggest that it may be more than just science fiction and that we should better understand language if we want to better understand what we know. 1
Sapir theorized: “The ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built upon the language habits of the group.” This theory was able to be tested when another proponent of the theory, Whorf, studied the Hopi Indians. Whorf said that Hopi has “no words, grammatical forms, construction or expressions that refer directly to what we call ‘time’.” This sparked a huge debate among linguists as to whether the Hopi have a concept of time or not. This could have been a turning point in the study of Linguistic Relativity because if the Hopi actually had no concept of time then it would be a massive piece of evidence in support of the theory that languages control what we can know. There were numerous studies published on the Hopi Indians, one of the more notable ones by Ekkehart Malotki. Who while he ultimately disputed Whorf’s assertions that the Hopi have no concept of time he did agree that the tense system had variations from English. Whether this has an effect on their understanding of time is still debatable. 2
I am born of Korean parents, raised in China and have went to a primarily English speaking school for most of my life. I have a fairly good grasp of all these languages and to some extent I consider myself to be trilingual. (I perhaps would not earn a Masters in all three but I am at a conversational level in all of them). In studying this phenomenon of language’s effect on knowledge I have become very introspective as to how my three languages affect the way I think. I have always believed that the primary language you have can be determined by the language that you think in. But the extension of this theory would be that if what I think is what I know then my grasp of my language can narrow what I can know, can it not?
I think in English because it is the most comfortable for me. However, I speak mainly Korean at home and in living in China I have a large need to use Chinese. When I switch back and forth between these languages I find that there may be a somewhat subtle change in my personality. For example, when I speak Korean it would often be to Korean adults because most of my Korean friends speak English as well. Therefore, I find myself being much more respectful when I speak in Korean than perhaps I would when speaking in...

Find Another Essay On The vocabulary we have does more than communicate knowledge. It shapes what we can know

What Can We Know About the Prophet Muhammad

880 words - 4 pages a glimpse into what was the socio-political system of his day through this documentation. This is more than one can know about many historical figures and certainly does not make for a sparse filler of the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Works Cited "Aisha, Ayesha." BELIEVE. http://mb-soft.com/believe/txh/aisha.htm (accessed January 24, 2012). Goldschmidt, Arthur Jr, and Lawrence Davidson. A Concise History of the Middle East. Philadelphia: Westview Press, 2010.

Wanting What We Can Not Have: Jealousy

661 words - 3 pages , is extremely common today, and will be even more prevalent tomorrow. As the influence of the media continues to grow, the effects of the often unrealistic messages that it conveys continue to stimulate viewer's emotions and evoke certain feelings of jealousy within them. Jealousy is a feeling that develops when people are bombarded with indications that what they don't have makes them inferior to those who do have it, and is also only truly

Discuss George's actions at the end of the novel. How can we justify what he does to Lennie? How can we condemn it?

827 words - 3 pages Discuss George's actions at the end of the novel. How can we justify what he does to Lennie? How can we condemn it?Although murder is morally incorrect, mercy killing can be justified as it may prevent a later inevitable and painful death. In the novella 'Of Mice and Men' written by John Steinbeck, the character George shoots his friend, Lennie. Whilst George's actions can be condemned, George had good intentions towards the death of his friend

The World As We Know It

1033 words - 5 pages assist you in your social life, educational, and professional future? What are the benefits? And how can this system improve the way we do things 100 times better than the way people did it twenty five to thirty years ago. Social networking is a huge deal now a days. Used to communicate informally with other users or to find people with similar interests to one’s self. Can you just imagine how much this tool can help you in your social future? This

Who is God and What can we know about God

1311 words - 5 pages different things. He is seen as a kind old man, or as a kind of father or favorite uncle. If these people where God then what the future holds would be full of good things. God is also seen has a Judge or Policeman, because he sets the rules and what the future life would hold in store for us and whether we deserve, good or bad things. It will depend on how we have performed. Lastly good can also be seen as a King or Ruler, who is the "big boss" one

We Can Do It

1616 words - 7 pages Women’s Suffrage Movement. There are many places today in which you can find females working, thanks to the Woman Suffrage Movement and passage of the 19th Amendment. Law firms, doctor offices, banks, schools, etc. Women today are more privileged than they ever have been. They have jobs, education, and more opportunities to grab hold of. Now we have stay-at-home dads that don’t confine to gender stereotypes. All of these are signs that the future is

Hell: What We Think We Know

2740 words - 11 pages ignore the subject or gloss over it even though they believe Hell exists because of their extensive study of God’s word. After all, it is pretty horrible to think of someone being sent to Hell for eternity, but Hell is given more time in the Scriptures than Heaven. Hell is as difficult to describe as Heaven since none of us have been there or know anyone that has been there. In our society, most of us don’t want to think about Hell. We want to

Sin As We Know It

1418 words - 6 pages Sin. You’ve all committed it. Some far more than others. All going through the same process of recovery. Some cope, others live a life full of secrets and regrets. Which of these are you? How you choose to react to a sin defines the person you are. The Scarlet Letter properly displays the difference in how you choose to deal with sin through revealing it or keeping it within ourselves; as well as the high price you must pay for your sins and

Slavery do we know enough about it? what is the christian view of it?

2017 words - 8 pages it occurs and put pressures on companies that benefit from slaves or partnering with the slave nations. "Australia should shame the slaving regimes." We must also understand that we are fighting a global issue of the trading of human beings. He also believes that "Australia must recognise slavery as pressing domestic civil right concerns", "But the most important thing is to become vocal. Today's slaves suffer in silence. They have no voice. But Australians can be their voice to the world" "the internet is the key, allowing the people around the world to communicate."

How Do We Know and What We Know?

941 words - 4 pages Knowledge may be socially constructed on the basis of language used to describe it. Knowledge has purpose beyond the more transfer of information or facts. Member of an army engaged in a war usually know that their cause is 'right' and that of the enemy is 'wrong'. "there cause are differ." Thus, knowledge can be perceived as true or false because of its source. Soldiers follow their officers, children follow their parents and citizens

What is the real purpose of education? Are we in it simply for the purpose of learning? Essay suggests that there is more to an education than books

782 words - 3 pages "School Teaches Us More Than Just Words"As a child, I remember my mother telling me to make sure I succeed in school so that when I grow up I can be somebody. I told her I wanted to be a doctor and that I would do my best and make her proud. In reality, what was the purpose of this education that I would receive in my future years? Education is there to make us all well-rounded and not just educated individuals. The whole purpose of education is

Similar Essays

”The Vocabulary We Have Does More Than Communicate Our Knowledge; It Shapes What We Can Know.” Evaluate This Claim With Reference To Different Are

1407 words - 6 pages ways; we all have our own world-view. The different world-views, which are not only based on our vocabulary, may be a more important factor in how we receive and use knowledge rather than language only. Many people share almost identical vocabularies and yet they see the world different, are interested in different things and have various views on politics, ethics, art etc. Language does shape what we can know to some extent. A doctor knowing

‘The Vocabulary We Have Does More Than Communicate Our Knowledge

1717 words - 7 pages useful medium for communication, it does not always communicate knowledge effectively. A single word can have so many different meanings, yet no two different words are identical. Even synonyms differ in their secondary meanings and connotations. This characteristic of vocabulary causes confusion in both communicating and receiving information, and has the power to distort and shape what we can know. Consider the framing effect in psychology, in

Vocabulary Shapes Knowledge Essay

1644 words - 7 pages can be enhanced and broadened with effective use of words as vocabulary simplifies means of obtaining and communicating knowledge. Although language may not be able to capture the exact experience, it does convey knowledge, which can be furthered through specificity. Vocabulary is an effective way to convey what exists only in the mind. Therefore, while vocabulary is an effective tool of communication, it also shapes what we can know

How Can We Know What God Means?

3690 words - 15 pages tangled set of issues in front of us and I consider it my responsibility as the first respondent to lay the groundwork of Gracia's project so that in the course of further discussion today we can be sure we are more or less on the same page. Also, although any good book leaves you wanting more, as this one does, it's unfair to criticize an author for not writing a different book than he or she has written. Our focus today is on this book here