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If you've ever learned another language,
then you know that some words don't translate exactly.
For example, there's a language in New Guinea that
only has two words for color-- mola,
meaning "bright," and mili, meaning "dark."
Now compare that to English.
We have lots of words for color--
blue, green, teal, mauve, all that stuff.
But does the fact that we have different words for color
mean that we actually think about color differently?
And your answer to that question places you
on one position of the great language-thought debate.
Which comes first?
And we have different theories that we
can place sort of on a spectrum.
And on one end, we have something called universalism.
This theory says that thought comes before language.
So your thoughts dictate the language that develops.
So going back to our New Guinean example,
a universalist would say that that group of people
only thinks in terms of bright and dark,
and if they had concepts or ideas about other colors,
then they would develop words for them
in order to express those thoughts.
So with universalism, we have the idea
that thought determines language completely.
And now here, at this point, we have the idea
that thought influences language.
Just a little bit gentler of a statement.
And this is the idea that Piaget ascribed to.
Piaget came up with a theory of cognitive development
in children, and it was because of this and his observations
of children that he believed that once children
were able to think in a certain way,
then they developed the language to describe those thoughts.
So, for example, when children learn that objects continue
to exist even though they can't see them,
that's when they start to develop words
like "gone" and "missing," "find."
So their language development is influenced
by their cognitive development and their newly-discovered
ability to understand that objects exist,
even when they can't see them anymore.
So that's what Piaget thought.
And now, a little further down, towards the more middle ground,
we have Vygotsky.
And Vygotsky thought that language and thought are
independent, but they converge through development.
So he didn't really say if language influenced thought
or if thought influenced language.
He just said they're both there, they're both independent,
but eventually, you learn to use them at the same time.
Because Vygotsky believed that children
develop language through social interaction
with adults who already know the language.
And through that interaction, then they
learn to connect their thoughts and the language
that they eventually learn.
OK, so now we're crossing over the middle ground
into the world that believes language
has an influence on thought.
And we have a couple of positions here,
and they both fall under the category
of linguistic determinism.
So these are called the weak and the strong hypotheses.
And this isn't a value judgment on how good they are
or how well-established they are.
It just refers to how much influence
they think language has on thought.
So weak linguistic determinism says
that language influences thought.
It makes it easier or more common
for us to think in certain ways depending
on how our language is structured.
So, for example, I'm going to read you a sentence,
and I want you to draw it out or at least vividly imagine it.
"The girl pushes the boy."
OK, so however you drew that out or imagined it,
if you drew it this way, with the girl on the left pushing
the boy toward the right, than your native language probably
reads from left to right, like English.
If you drew the girl pushing the boy this way,
with the girl on the right pushing toward the left,
then your native language might be
one that reads from right to left, like Hebrew.
Now, it's not that you can't or didn't even draw it
the other way.
It's just that, depending on how your language is structured,
it makes it more likely or easier
for you to think about that action in a certain direction.
Now, strong linguistic determinism
takes a more extreme view and says
that language determines thought completely.
This is also called the Whorfian hypothesis,
because the guy that came up with it, his name was Whorf.
And he observed that there is a Native American tribe called
the Hopi that don't have any grammatical tense
in their language, and he thought
that meant that they couldn't think
about time in the same way.
Later, people studying the language
found that the Hopi have a different way
of expressing past, present, and future.
So we don't have an answer yet for which of these perspectives
is the correct one, and people are still doing research
to try to discover which one is the most accurate.
But now you're aware of the main perspectives
on the relationship between thought and language.
And now, when you're learning a foreign language,
you can think about how the language you're learning
is influencing your thoughts, or vice-versa, how
your thoughts are affecting your interpretation of the language.


語言和認知理論 (Theories of Language and Cognition)

349 分類 收藏
Liao Jess 發佈於 2016 年 9 月 18 日    gahui yu 翻譯    Hsin 審核
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