Named for their philosophical leader, Laia Odo, the Odonians of Anarres live in isolation from Urras and their interstellar neighbors until the protagonist, an Odonian physicist, travels to Anarres to further his scientific research and to share the values of his society.
The view espoused depending upon one's interpretation of how strongly we should read Whorf's claim has sometimes been called "linguistic constructivism. A weaker reading of Whorf more likely to be accurate to his intent, I think is that our language influences our reasoning about, and presuppositions concerning, the world.
Whorf's paper has a straightforward structure: Review of some illustrative personal anecdotes Statement of primary hypotheses: Comparative cases as evidence for some parts of the hypotheses.
Some Anecdotes Whorf reviews a number of personal anecdotes from his experience as an inspector for an insurance company. They are so straight-forward we do no need to review them here. However, the key and challenging question is: Whorf is raising the possibility that the theories by which I mean in these cases the collection of relevant -- and partly false -- beliefs that these individuals had were shaped by their language.
The degree to which this is the case is the degree to which we should accept something like a robust form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
The Hypotheses Whorf raises the possibility that he can use Hopi, and compare it to "SAE" standard average European to test the idea that: Please note that there are in fact there are at least five hypotheses here after all, maybe language shapes our view of matter but not time, or etc.
The idea is that Hopi is very different from the relatively similar European languages. He hopes to show systematic patterns of difference. We are at the disadvantage that we don't know Hopi, and so must assume his account is accurate. So, since I cannot evaluate his claims about Hopi.
I will here just state them. SAE applies number to real and imaginary things.
We say, for example, "Ten days" when of course there are never present at once as a group ten days. In Hopi, plurals are reserved for things that can form a present group. For example, regarding time, you have to say, "On the tenth day.
SAE has individual and mass nouns. Hopi lacks vague mass nouns:Before continuing, it is indispensable to define and discuss the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
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