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Language and Worldview
    Language and Worldview
Worldview encompasses all elements of
 how we perceive and make sense of the
 universe – our fundamental beliefs and
 values. In this sense, worldview and
 culture have similar meanings.

Most linguistic anthropologists say:
Language is intertwined with our
  understandings of how the world works
  and can’t be separated from worldview.
 Example: count and mass nouns
A count noun is something you can count – five
  apples.



A mass noun is something that can’t be counted
  individually:

sand, not “three sands”
butter, not “three butters”
            Variation - semantics
Languages vary in how they indicate mass and
  count nouns. In English, you have to memorize
  them. In other languages, they may be
  “marked,” for example with affixes.

What kinds of things are mass or count nouns also
 varies. In Russian, vegetables come in both
 count and mass noun forms:

luk = onion, mass noun “some onion”
lukovitsa = onion, count noun, one onion
morkov’ = carrot, mass noun “some carrot”
morkovka = carrot, count noun, one carrot
Example: Whorf and Hopi Time
See Agar, pp. 63-64

Whorf argued that in English, time units
 (days, weeks, minutes) are count nouns.
You can count ten days like ten apples.

In Hopi, you can’t count time like apples, or
  spend it, or borrow it like money. You can
  only experience time, like a verb “It was
  being day”
       Language and Reality
Agar, pg. 66

“Two different languages aren’t just alternative
  ways to talk about the same reality.
  Alternative languages carry with them a
  different theory of what reality in fact is.”

For example, English speakers experience time
  as “chunks” that can be counted – it can be
  hard for us to imagine time in other ways.
             Cultural models
A cultural model describes our understanding of
  how the world is put together and how it works.
  These models are specific to a language and
  are not necessarily universal.


Example: English speakers think of dawn as the
  “beginning” of the day and sunset as the “end” of
  the day, also we see the future as being “before”
  us and the past “behind” us.
     Metaphor and Worldview
A metaphor relies on a comparison between
  two things based on some sort of similarity
  between them.

Each language and culture has its own set
  of metaphors that influence our cultural
  models, how we imagine that the world
  works
e.g. “Up is good and down is bad.”
       Up is good. Down is bad.
•   Things are looking up.
•   I feel up.
•   That lifted my spirits.
•   That really brought me down.
•   That was a really low thing to do.
•   He reached the peak of his profession
    after going through a low point in his
    career.
        Source and Target
A metaphor is composed of a SOURCE and
  a TARGET.
The target is the thing you are trying to
  describe, and the source is what you are
  comparing it to.
 “Life’s       a beach.”
TARGET         SOURCE
             “Time is money”
Source is?
Target is?

If time is like money then:
You can spend, buy, save, have, waste, borrow, beg,
    steal, count, divide, budget, economize, etc.

In English, time nouns are COUNT nouns (days,
   minutes, hours…) in some other languages, like
   Hopi, time units are not count nouns. This means
   that in some languages, “money” would not be an
   appropriate “source” for a time metaphor
 Metaphors as Cultural Models
Metaphors provide a cultural model of how
 the world works.

One very common general cultural model
 throughout the world is the human body as
 a model for other objects.

e.g. English “head” and “foot” of the bed
 Copala Trique body metaphors
Body metaphors don’t work the same in every
  language. Take Copala Trique, a Mexican
  language

“nose of the airplane” “foot of the mountain” BUT:
• nose of the machete = handle
• back of the house = roof
• foot of the year = beginning of the year
• head of the month = end of the month
• stomach of the house = inside the house
• face of the house = in front of the house
   Time and causality in Trique
Copala Trique uses a body metaphor to describe
 when things occur and why:

Within 3 days = “stomach of three days”
After Monday = “back of Monday”
Caused by = “feet of (he died feet of illness)”

Also, seeing a person is spoken of as having seen
  a body:
Saw John body of Peter (John saw Peter)
         Western Apache cars
•   hood=nose
•   headlights=eyes
•   windshield=forehead
•   battery=liver
•   radiator=lung
•   hoses=intestines

What is the metaphor here?

W. Apache also classifies cars, grammatically,
 with animate beings, such as people and
 animals.
        Emotion metaphors
Emotions are both abstract and directly,
 even physically experienced.

Not surprisingly, many languages use
 metaphors to understand how emotions
 work, and what effects they can have on
 the body.
English emotions: 2 metaphors
The BODY is a CONTAINER for emotions.
EMOTIONS are a VOLATILE LIQUID

My anger boiled over/ my blood boiled
I was ready to explode.
He was overflowing with love for his mother
She poured out her feelings
His emotions roiled inside him.
Don’t bottle your feelings up inside.
I blew my top.
“Let it out.”
           “Heart of the matter”
The heart is viewed as the center and location of
  emotions and is also the metaphorical “center”
  of other things

•   She/he has my heart
•   My heart aches for those children
•   I didn’t have the heart to bring burst their bubble
•   My heart is broken

Many other languages locate emotions in the
 stomach
          Japanese Emotions
Hara – stomach
Hara rises up, hold it in hara, keep it in hara

Mune – chest
I feel strangled with mune because of the rise
   of hara

Atama – head
It came to atama with a click
    Gapun Metaphor of anger
Gapun is a New Guinea language [week 12]

Gapun metaphors surrounding anger:

• Anger is a poisonous substance
• Stomach is the seat of emotions.
• Unexpressed emotions will “rot” in the
  stomach and cause illness
     Assignment #2 due 10/04
• I give you three metaphors in English – choose
  ONE of these three and come up with TWO
  more example expressions that use this
  metaphor

• Discuss how metaphors help linguistic
  anthropologists understand the relationship
  between language and worldview and how the
  way we use metaphors in everyday speech
  provides a link between language and worldview

• TIPS: Choose one of the three metaphors I give
  you AND avoid non-cultural explanations
Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

  Grammar and Worldview
      Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
• Strong version: Language determines
  worldview (linguistic determinism) –
  – Agar pg. 67


• Weak version: Language strongly
  influences our cultural model of the world
  (sometimes called linguistic relativism)
  – Agar pg. 68
 According to Sapir and Whorf:
Different languages carve the world up in
  different ways.

Language focuses our attention on certain
  things, thereby shaping the way we see
  the world.
           Whorf examples
English has pilot, airplane, dragonfly
Hopi has one word for “things that fly”

English has one word for water
Hopi has two words: pahe (running water)
                 kehi (water in container)

Ottenheimer pg. 16 gives the example of the
 Russian word “ruka” which means both
 “hand” and “arm”
     Grammar and Worldview
Lexical categories: categories of words that
  share some culturally meaningful element
e.g. animate/inanimate

animate objects are “alive”
inanimate objects are not

In many languages, animate and inanimate
  objects are treated differently in the
  grammar
 How does language “carve up the
             world”?
Example: Navajo animacy hierarchy
You can say “The girl drank the water” but not
  “The water was drunk by the girl”

Things lower on the animacy hierarchy can not act
  upon things higher up.

So you can say “The man kicked the horse.” but
  not “The horse kicked the man.” Instead, you
  have to say “The man allowed himself to be
  kicked by the horse.”
          Cultural Emphasis
Ottenheimer pg. 16 – the more important
  something is to a culture, the more single
  words there will be for or related to it


Historical linguistic example from Tzeltal Maya
Old Tzeltal: Chih - deer
             Tunim chih – cotton deer (“sheep”)

In Modern Tzeltal, chih is sheep, and deer is
  tetikil chih, or wild sheep, because the
  culture has shifted from hunting to farming
Agar example of cultural emphasis:
pg. 52 working in a South Indian village

three words for uncle:

motobaap – father’s older brother
kaaka – father’s younger brother
masi – mother’s brother
             Hinton article
• worldview and grammar

• emphasizes expressive distinctions
  available in Wintu not available in English

• Think about how the world is divided up
  differently by Wintu grammar; also what
  kinds of distinctions does the language
  “force” us to pay attention to?
    Example: Generic vs. Particular

Hinton pp. 62-63, example from Wintu

Generic nouns refer to a general category,
 like “grizzly bears” wimay

Particular nouns refer to specific members
 of a category – wimah “that/those
 particular grizzly bear(s)”
  Example: Evidential suffixes
In many languages, when you make a
  statement, you must indicate where your
  information came from.
In Wintu, you add a suffix to the verb:

no suffix = you witnessed (saw) it yourself
-nte = you perceived it by other senses
-re = you deduced it from evidence
-ke = you heard it from someone else
     Worldview: Taxonomies
A taxonomy is a way of classifying things.
  Every language has classification systems
  built in. The study of these systems is
  sometimes called ethnoscience or
  ethnosemantics.
       Taxonomies and Worldview
Classification systems create a linguistic
  model of the world.

Example: English distinguishes between live
  animals and the meat that comes from them.
  Compare “I ate beef.” and “I ate cow.”
cow        beef
sheep       mutton
pig         pork
deer        venison
bird        poultry
   Deeply cultural taxonomies
 Example: Dyirbal noun classification –
 Dyirbal has four noun classes, each with a
 central characteristic of items in that class.

Bayi - human males [hawks, animals]
Balan – human females [sun, birds,
 poisonous animals and fish]
Balam – non-flesh food
Bala – everything else
      Taxonomy of Breakfast

Gussie Lavern of Hinesburg, born in the
 1920’s, talks about eating waffles for the
 first time:
       Taxonomies and Worldview
Classification systems create a linguistic
  model of the world.

Example: English distinguishes between live
  animals and the meat that comes from them.
  Compare “I ate beef.” and “I ate cow.”
cow        beef
sheep       mutton
pig         pork
deer        venison
bird        poultry
   Deeply cultural taxonomies
 Example: Dyirbal noun classification –
 Dyirbal has four noun classes, each with a
 central characteristic of items in that class.

Bayi - human males [hawks, animals]
Balan – human females [sun, birds,
 poisonous animals and fish]
Balam – non-flesh food
Bala – everything else
Like Dyirbal, many languages make
  grammatical distinctions that English
  doesn’t.

Example: Bantu has different noun classes

person      prefix: um    um-fana boy

animal     prefix: in     in-ja    dog

abstract    prefix: bu     bu-bi   evil
Example: Navajo has 11 shape classifiers

yishjaa’ “I am handling granular plural
             objects” [seeds, marbles]

yishka “I am handling something in an
         open container” [water glass, bowl]

yishjool “I am handling noncompact matter”
              [wool, dust bunny]
        How does grammar affect
              perception?
Boxes example.

John Lucy on CBC

How are Mayan-speaking
  children and adults
  different?

How do Mayan and English
  “focus speakers attention”
  on objects in the world
  differently?
    Universalism vs. relativism
Linguistic universals = things that are true of
  all human languages – they are assumed
  to be “hard-wired” or “cognitive” in nature.

Linguistic relativity = the idea that linguistic
  elements (like words) have no meaning
  outside of the linguistic system in which
  they are used.
      Example: Color Terms
All languages have words to refer to colors.

All normally developing humans can
  perceive colors in the same range of
  visible light.

To what extent are “color terms” a linguistic
 universal? (Ottenheimer pp. 22-24)
 Universal order of appearance
11 basic color terms – which colors a
  language has depends on how many
  basic colors it names individually:

2      3    4     5         6        7+
white     GRUE yellow             brown
      red                 blue    purple
black     yellow GRUE     green    pink
                                  orange
                                    gray
    Color Linguistic Universals
• The progression in which basic color terms
  appear as the number of them increases in a
  language is a human linguistic universal

• Humans have a shared cognitive capacity to
  perceive color and to some degree the same
  meanings for colors

• This capacity divides the color spectrum into
  “chunks” that are not dependent on cultural
  differences
                   But…
If we all, biologically speaking, see the same
   colors, then how can language influence
   how we see, or our “worldview”?

Consider:

Tickled pink, feeling blue, seeing red, you’re
  yellow, green with envy, “brown is the new
  black”

				
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posted:4/18/2010
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