The Language Hoax
Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language
Challenges the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which claims that the language people speak shapes the way they perceive the world, arguing against the use of language as a lens through which to better understand human nature.
Oxford University Press
Japanese has a term that covers both green and blue. Russian has separate terms for dark and light blue. Does this mean that Russians perceive these colors differently from Japanese people? Does language control and limit the way we think?
This short, opinionated book addresses the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which argues that the language we speak shapes the way we perceive the world. Linguist John McWhorter argues that while this idea is mesmerizing, it is plainly wrong. It is language that reflects culture and worldview, not the other way around. The fact that a language has only one word for eat, drink, and smoke doesn't mean its speakers don't process the difference between food and beverage, and those who use the same word for blue and green perceive those two colors just as vividly as others do.
McWhorter shows not only how the idea of language as a lens fails but also why we want so badly to believe it: we're eager to celebrate diversity by acknowledging the intelligence of peoples who may not think like we do. Though well-intentioned, our belief in this idea poses an obstacle to a better understanding of human nature and even trivializes the people we seek to celebrate. The reality -- that all humans think alike -- provides another, better way for us to acknowledge the intelligence of all peoples.
From Library Staff
From the critics
AgeAdd Age Suitability
There are no ages for this title yet.
SummaryAdd a Summary
There are no summaries for this title yet.
NoticesAdd a Notice
There are no notices for this title yet.
QuotesAdd a Quote
There are no quotes for this title yet.
VideosAdd a Video
There are no videos for this title yet.
Find it at NYPL
Buy It Now
Support your library, keep it forever!View Purchase Options Learn more about this program
Hello! We noticed you have the following items in your cart right now:
If you'd still like to purchase the items you have in your cart, you can do that now.
You'll be able to purchase your eBook after you have checked out your current cart.
To continue with your eBook purchase immediately, you can clear your cart by clicking below.
All items will be removed from your cart.
I'd like to keep browsing! I'll decide later.