The Instigator
InVinoVeritas
Pro (for)
Winning
8 Points
The Contender
thuNdERFist
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

One's native language structure affects one's world view (Linguistic Relativity)

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
InVinoVeritas
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/29/2012 Category: Science
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,240 times Debate No: 25902
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (11)
Votes (2)

 

InVinoVeritas

Pro

Definitions:
Language: Complex system of communication used within a group of people. [1] To simplify this debate and avoid the introduction of irrelevant exceptions, we will only be talking about one's native language, or first acquired language.
And to clarify further, structure of language: The rules that govern a language (i.e., its grammar.)
World view/Conceptualization of world: fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society's knowledge and point of view. [2]

Resolution: The structure of a language affects the ways in which its native speakers are able to conceptualize their world.

(Pro will attempt to affirm the resolution. Con will attempt to negate the resolution.)

The first round of this debate will be strictly reserved for discussion of terms of debate, definitions, and acceptance.

This is my third attempt at having this debate; hopefully I find a strong opponent.

Thank you.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
thuNdERFist

Con

Hi, this is my first debate on this site. I've taken some History classes, but am still in high school, so hopefully you won't be displeased if you find me ignorant of a subject or a point you make.

Uhm, I'm not quite sure what extra definitions I'd like to add or contend with you on, only I guess that all words that we use are capable of being found in Webster's dictionary or on dictionary.com? That's it really. If either of us uses a word that is meant to be taken in a different way, I s'pose we'd just identify how they are meant to be taken. I know it's obvious, but I'm just writing it purely for my own benefit.

Other than that, good luck have fun, hopefully we both learn something.
Debate Round No. 1
InVinoVeritas

Pro

I will pose three arguments to support my case regarding linguistic relativity and its validity:

A Cognitive Approach: Conceptual metaphors


The way that we categorize and metaphorically represent our thoughts is influenced by characteristics of our native language. According to conceptual metaphor theory [1], upheld by linguist George Lakoff and philosopher Mark Johnson, we understand many of our ideas in terms of others. A good example is debating (as we are doing now), and the hidden metaphorical connotations used in our language:

He won the argument.
Your claims are indefensible.
He shot down all my arguments.
His criticisms were right on target.
If you use that strategy, he'll wipe you out.

Here we see a trend in which arguing is a "war," or perhaps, to be more precise, a "struggle." Through this metaphor, we lose sight of the cooperative and "creative" aspects of argument, one could argue, among numerous other facets of argumentation that could be metaphorically represented. In this way, our culture's metaphorical categorization of topics affects the way we perceive them.

Another example is the difference between metaphors regarding the topic of marriage within the English and Chinese languages. Although there are congruent metaphors within the two systems, there are also substantial disparities. Both English and Chinese have metaphors to describe marriage as a taste, but different tastes are used, and Chinese has a tendency to use multiple tastes to describe marriage (e.g., "In fact, marriage is like life, which has all sorts of joys and sorrows like the five tastes [translated].", as opposed to English, which tends to only use a single taste (e.g, "But the marriage turned sour and they divorced.") [2]

This phenomen depicted in these two examples is, indeed, a result of cultural influence. But let us remember that the interaction between language and culture is back-and-forth; in other words, both influence each other. If this were not the case, language would not be a dynamic sociocultural system and would therefore remain static. Culture sets the traits of our language and thereby restricts our world view, and through our restricted world view, our language evolves and shapes our culture.

F***ing Linguistic Relativism

A study [3] shows "autonomic responses to swear words [are] larger than to euphemisms and neutral stimuli." We are "verbal[ly] condition[ed]," as explained by the study, to have a greater emotional response to these words over others; in other words, it is more stressful to say them than it is to say other words. Of course, nothing inherent about these words makes them more emotionally alarming than others. Indeed, we are conditioned by our linguistic system to shape our world view around the idea that these words are more stressful. Therefore, our physiological systems (and neurological/cognitive system) react differently to them than to other, less culturally "harmful" words.

And, finally, as the study states: "Such an outcome [denoted in the study] satisfies the definition of linguistic relatively: Word forms, in and of themselves, exerting some control on affect and cognition in turn."

Guugu Yimithirr Directionality

Guugu Yimthirr (GY, for short) is an Australian aboriginal language. Other than being the origin language of the word "kangaroo," it also has a peculiar aspect to it that has perplexed and amazed linguists for decades: its system of position and direction. In the English language, we use the system of "left," "right," "down," "up," etc. In GY, however, they strictly use the cardinal direction system ("north," "south," "east," and "west") to indicate position and direction. [4] For example, if we see a good-looking foxy mama in the vicinity of our friend, we may say (if we are English speakers), "Look at that hottie behind you to the right!" In GY, though, we would say, "Look at that hottie to the west!"

Let us contrast English and GY for a moment. In English, our system is relative; the right of an object, for example, can change depending on the position of the objection. In GY, on the other hand, the directions are fixed, so someone's west will always be the same. This requires the GY speaker to have an excellent sense of cardinal direction, which is typically absent in those who speak languages that do not depend on it. This difference in reference point regarding position and direction; it is an example of how much of an effect language can have on our world view.

Imagine you live in a hotel room and that there is a hotel room across the hall from yours that looks identical to yours. As an English speaker, if you walk into the hotel room opposite from yours, you will think that it is your room. A GY speaker, however, having a keen sense of cardinal direction, would walk into the room across the hall and inherently know that it is another room due to the different cardinal direction he would be facing as he enters the room. Cool stuff, right?

---

In conclusion, based on the evidence presented, the "linguistic relativity principle," as coined by Benjamin Lee Whorf [5], is valid.

Thank you.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.english.hku.hk...
[3] http://www.plosone.org...
[4] http://www.anthro.ucsd.edu...
[5] http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca...
thuNdERFist

Con

thuNdERFist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
InVinoVeritas

Pro

Why can't I get an opponent who is up to debate this topic?
thuNdERFist

Con

thuNdERFist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
thuNdERFist

Con

thuNdERFist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by InVinoVeritas 4 years ago
InVinoVeritas
"...the right of an object, for example, can change depending on the position of the objection."

S/G Correction: objection --> object
Posted by thuNdERFist 4 years ago
thuNdERFist
Okay, but you at least have to prove that it affects our point of view in an observable way...
Posted by InVinoVeritas 4 years ago
InVinoVeritas
@philochristos, my argument does not uphold the idea that "language affects the ENTIRETY of our point of view."
Posted by philochristos 4 years ago
philochristos
This looks interesting. I hope that in the course of the debate, the subject of self-reference will be addressed. If it's true that our language affects the entirety of our point of view, and if your point of view is that language affects the entirety of our point of view, then it would follow that language plays some role in creating the point of view that language affects the entirety of our point of view. In other words, the only reason you think language affects your point of view is BECAUSE of your language. In that case, it will be interesting to see how you could rationally assess the merits of that point of view without making a self-refuting argument of some kind.
Posted by thuNdERFist 4 years ago
thuNdERFist
Good luck to you too, looks like I'm about to get creamed haha. Whatever you introduce that I don't understand, I will probably wiki it haha.
Posted by InVinoVeritas 4 years ago
InVinoVeritas
@thuNdERFist, this will probably be a challenging debate for you, as a high school student, since I am a college student with a pretty strong background in linguistics.

In my arguments, I may introduce some concepts that will be foreign to you, but I'll try to be as clear and simple as possible (and hopefully, you'll do some research on the subjects addressed before replying.)

Good luck!
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
The thesis seems intuitive. I suppose the opposite thesis, that the way we conceptualize the world affects the structure of our language is just as intuitive though. I would take this as it seems interesting but I'm an uber novice on questions of linguistics. Should be interesting to watch though.
Posted by InVinoVeritas 4 years ago
InVinoVeritas
It poses the question of "Does the structure of the languages we speak affect the way we conceptualize the world?"
Posted by MouthWash 4 years ago
MouthWash
What's your point?
Posted by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
My native language is newspeak.

I don't really think it affects my world view, though.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Clash 4 years ago
Clash
InVinoVeritasthuNdERFistTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit by Con.
Vote Placed by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
InVinoVeritasthuNdERFistTied
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