Wheatstonepanum Limiting Case See Panum Phenomenoneffect


WHORF-SAPIR HYPOTHESIS/THEORY. = Whorfian hypothesis = Whorf s hypothesis = linguistic relativity hypothesis = Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. The American linguists and anthropologists Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897-1941) and Edward Sapir (18841939) formulated the Whorf-Sapir linguistic hypothesis, which states that one's language influences the nature of one's perceptions and thoughts, and was first suggested by the German ethnologist Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835). There are two forms of the linguistic relativity hypothesis: a "weak" form (which argues that only perceptions are so influenced; e.g., an Eskimo's perception of snow is distinguishable from a non-Eskimo's because the former has many different words in his/her vocabulary/language for different variations in types of snow), and a "strong" form (which asserts that abstract conceptual processes are so affected; e.g., the Hopi Indian language handles time in a relativistic manner as compared with the English language breakdown of time into "past," "present," and "future"). Unfortunately, very little convincing evidence supports completely the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis. An early view of the relationship between language and thought was J. B. Watson's (1878-1958) behaviorist approach that asserted that one learns to talk in much the same way that other muscular skills (such as riding a bicycle) are learned, and when one subsequently makes the same muscular movements in a more hidden form (i.e., to oneself covertly rather than aloud or overtly), it is called thought [cf., the motor theory of thinking/consciousness of E. Jacobson (1932) and L. W. Max (1935), which posits that mental images are accompanied by changes in the corresponding muscular area - such as the arm and eye regions of the body - for motor and visual images, respectively; Flourens' theory -

named after the French physician Marie-Pierre Jean Flourens (1794-1867), states that thinking depends on the functioning of the cerebrum as a whole; the laws of thought - refer to the three logical principles of identity, contradiction, and excluded middle, and are considered to be the basic principles of all reasoning; and the law of participation - is a principle of human primitive thinking, which asserts that things that are similar are considered to be identical]. According to Watson, what psychologists call thought is nothing but talking to oneself (cf., the motor theory of speech perception propounded by A. M. Liberman, which holds that speech is assumed to be perceived by an implicit, covert system that "maps" the acoustic properties of the input against a set of deep motor representations of idealized articulation). However, Watson's extreme behaviorist view that thinking or thought depends only on the implicit muscle movements of speech has proven to be inadequate [cf., central theory of thinking - is the proposition that the center of mentation is a cerebral process located in the brain (however, curiously, Aristotle suggested that the locus of thinking/thought is in the heart)]. Kinney's law - named after the American educator Richard Kinney (1924-1979), relates to temporal factors and behavioral/quantitative aspects of speech deficiency in postnatally developing deafness where the length of time over which changes in speech develop is directly proportional to the length of time during which normal speech has been present; and the phonemic restoration phantom/effect -refers to the generalization that a dramatically altered acoustic element in speech is extremely difficult to detect, and where replacing various speech sounds with others still sounds like proper speech. Other competing theories concerning the relationship between language and thought are: J. Piaget's cognitive stage development theory, which emphasizes the idea that language is a result/by-product of a child's advances in cognitive abilities, particularly the ability to symbolize that develops at the end of infancy; and the Russian developmental psychologist Lev S. Vygotsky's (1896-1934) and the Russian neuropsychologist Aleksandr R. Luria's (1902-1977) linguistic theory that portrays language and thought as developing together and aiding each other in the process (cf., concept of pure meaning -Vygotsky's notion maintaining that "pure meaning" is the final union of language and thought in adult reasoning; language and thought begin as independent processes, but join together around the age of two years, and lead to the development of egocentric speech, inner speech, verbal thought, concept formation and, ultimately, "pure meaning"). It is suggested that the notion of linguistic relativity (like most "large" theories in psychology) is not the kind of theory that will ever be proven completely right or completely wrong; most likely, in the final analysis, it may be proper to say that language differences influence people's thoughts and perceptions in some ways, as well as, conversely, thoughts/ cognitions and perceptions influence one's language in other ways (cf., cloak theory of language - holds that the structure of a language is a dependent function of the patterns of thought embedded in the particular culture). See also BEHAVIORIST THEORY; CHOMSKY'S PSYCHOLINGUISTIC THEORY; CONCEPT LEARNING/CONCEPT FORMATION, THEORIES OF; LANGUAGE ACQUISITION THEORY; LANGUAGE ORIGINS, THEORIES OF; PIAGET'S DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES THEORY; SPEECH THEORIES; THOUGHT, LAWS OF.

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