Whorf Hypothesis

No, not the Klingon—the linguist. The Whorf hypothesis (sometimes called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis) is that language shapes physical perception. It's long been abandoned, but now a neurological study turns up evidence for it.

According to an entry on the Language Log, people distinguish colors with distinct names faster than those with similar names. Turns out this is true only in the right visual field. Information in the right visual field is processed in the left hemisphere where the language centers are.

Not exactly confirmation of Whorf, but a tantalizing indication of the intertwining of physical perception and language.

UPDATE: For less high-minded language speculation, check an old entry about "the butt-crack of dawn."


Post a Comment

<< Home