Sapir, Whorf – eat your heart out!

We are all fashioned by the language we speak, or rather, we are moulded by the consequences of growing up and living in a particular cultural sphere. Life is a serious of choices; all of them equally important in the grand scheme of things. But what, for example, happens when we touch another language? Our options expand and we become privy to another cultural sphere. Maybe an example would work well here. If, for example, one speaks English and Polish then one is open to two cultural spheres. But what happens when one begins to learn, let’s say, Arabic. Then another cultural sphere opens up and another range of opportunities reveals itself. If one continues to go down this path, one is shaped – to an extent – by the new cultural sphere and the opportunities attached to that sphere. If, however, one decides not to continue down this new path, then the opportunities change. They do not necessarily decrease, but they deepen within another sphere. All interesting stuff…


4 thoughts on “Sapir, Whorf – eat your heart out!

  1. You sound like you have it all figured out: we are shaped by the language we speak.Period. A few questions, however, need further explanation. What do you mean by ‘fashioned by the language we speak’? and ‘culture’? surely, you are not mistaking it for ‘nation’, are you?

  2. What is meant is that we are all to some extent effected by the language we speak and the culture in which we live. This culture, which is passed on to others through the medium of language, is a major factor in the definition of who we are. Culture and nation are very different concepts and are of course not to be mistaken. However, do you really think we are completely shaped by language? Do you think that the terms ‘culture’ and ‘nation’ are interchangeable?

  3. What I mean is I would like to know how you define ‘culture’ and how it relates to language, i.e. what role language plays in culture or culture in language. It’s just that what you say seems to be what I’d call an either-or approach – very authoritative, black-or-white kind of approach.

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