Sapir-Whorf and Writing

I have a passion for words. Like many of you, I find words and syntax and writing incredibly interesting and gripping. My interest has evolved over time, and has led me to my favorite linguistic theory: The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.

The Hypothesis (which was never formally proposed by either Sapir or Whorf) has two sides, Linguistic Determinism and Linguistic Relativism. Determinism is the more extreme version of the hypothesis, which states that language limits and defines human knowledge, thought, and perception. The lesser and more accepted side, Relativism, states that the language we use structures the way we perceive the world around us.

This is a controversial theory, with supporters on all sides of the argument. Studies have been done to both prove and disprove the theory, but we are less interested in the Linguistic application and more interested with the theory.

By theory, language can create the world. If we are to believe Determinism, nothing can exist in your mind outside of the context of a language (be it a traditional one or not). I’m going to make up a word.


Think about the word, and I mean really think about it. What does it look like? What does it sound like? Where does it live?

I have only given you the word, but you can extrapolate all of this information based out of the familiar words that you recognize. A word just created an entire idea, and entire life system, and a being.

Let your readers extrapolate sometimes, because you can count on their minds filling in the blank.

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