Language And Thinking In Terms Of The Relationship

An Analysis Of Language And Thinking In Terms Of The Relationship They Have With Each Other


The Sapir- Whorf’s hypothesis can be described as a set of rules that provide an analysis of language and thinking in terms of the relationship they have with each other. These rules are summarized into two categories namely the mould theory and the cloak theories. The mould theories state that language is the principal factor that human beings derive they’re thought process from. The cloak theory states that the thought process is classified into different subsections that are veiled by a particular language. This simply means that culture is a significant determinant of any language structure. Our language is, as a result, a deciding factor in the behaviour and action that we choose to follow which in turn triggers our thought process (Fishman, 2000).

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Whorf claims that the thought process is highly influential in the formation of different languages and dialects. Different thoughts give rise to different contents which are responsible for the formation of words that form languages. This theory has been disputed by some linguist who has an alternative view of language. This theory was structured by Lee Whorf who spent the most part of his life studying the connection between language and culture. The Hopi language dictates on the way its natives view the world in that it is part of the culture (Colin &Bahn, 2008). Whorf made an effort to categories the Hopi language into four categories that are viewed as dialects. These dialects differ in many aspects in that some parts of the language have gone through some changes to reflect on the culture of the different dialect speakers. The Hopi language is of a more complex nature compared to the languages of the world of the SEA.

One of the major differences between the two languages is seen in the projection of time. The Hopi do not recognize the element of time in their language. Time is thus seen as a process that is part of their life. Time is not recorded in major parts of their history and thus does not relay much significance. The languages of theworlds of the SEA constitutes of the European languages as a whole. The English language is part of this category. The SEA languagescategorize their time into three tenses which are the present, the past and the future tenses.This shows that they have an ideal amount of recognition for the events that take place at each period of a particular time. Time is thus visualized as a line as opposed to a process (Whorf, 1956).As stated earlier, the Hopi language is of a more complex form. Some of the complexities can be seen in their sentences. If the Hopi intend to describe an action such as reading, they will not recognize it as a verb, they will categorize it as a fact in that it has no past present or future. The Hopi have more lengthy seasons in that most of their events do not have time limits vice versa.  This fact alone displays the how the language would force them to perceive not only time but other factors that involve the recording of an event. The SEA languages comprise on a number of dialects which are different from each other. Within these languages, there are other factors that dictate on the way individuals think.

Whorf mentions that language influences the thought process. With the analysis of the concept of time in the two language worlds, one can see that the use of how language changes the form of a sentence which in turn determines what we make of the sentence. The sentence thus gets a new meaning which influences our perception of any given situation. The world of the Hopi differs from the world of the SEA in that the two conflicting language types give rise to two different cultures (Fishman, 2000).

Question two

The society is often prone to classify the English language in form of logic. This means that the language is seen as a tool of communication between two or people. This communication cannot be conducted without following a set of rules that guide the speaker and the listener on the actions to take. The notion that there is only one way of classification namely the logical system is beginning to phase due to the recognition of various classifications.

Another form of a classification system is the use of more than one dialect. A dialect is a form of language that is formed as a result of the interaction of two or more communities. Most dialects owe their existence to other influential languages. They thus resemble other language by sharing some factors such as the pronunciation or way of speech. A language is a direct reflection of a dialect in that the dialect is derived from a language. One of the advantages of this type of system is the focus on the pronunciation and vocabulary as opposed to the emphasis on the use of rules. One disadvantage can be seen in that a dialect demands a certain type of pronunciation which separates it from another. This brings about complications in language and speeches in that majority of the words are differentiated to suite the dialect in question. Dialect focuses on speech and forgets the rules that come with the speech. This removes the disciple that language needs in order to be passed from one generation to another (Colin &Bahn, 2008).

Language can be viewed as a form of communication system. This type of communication can be verbal or non verbal in that its major emphasis lies on the passing of messages from one person to another. The communication can also involve animals and humans due to the use of expressions as opposed to speech. This type of system acknowledges the influence of behavior and the role it has communicating different languages. One advantage of this system is the use of non verbal communication as a portion of language. This ensures that there is a connection between members of different dialects that would not have been able to communicate. One disadvantage is that it relies on expressions and eliminates some of the possibilities of language integration.

Language is reflective of most of the cultures that speak the particular dialect. This means that language can be classified as part of a culture. A language cannot stand on its own in that some cultures have integrated different rules of a certain community into a dialect. For an individual to learn a particular language, they need to educate themselves on the cultures that bestow the language. One of the advantages of this type of system is that it is one of the principle methods that are essential in learning and understanding a new language (Miroshnik, 2001).



Colin, Renfrew, Colin .,Bahn, Paul. (2008).Archeology: Theories, Methods and Practice Fifth edition. New York: Thames and Hudson.

Fishman, Joshua. (2000).A systemization of the Whorfian hypothesis.Journal of behavioral science. 1(9) 323-329.

Miroshnik, Victoria.  (2001). “Culture and International Management”.Journal of Management Development.

Whorf, B.L. (1956). Language though and reality. New York: John Wiley and sons.




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