Does Language Determine Thought?

The idea that language shapes thought was taboo for a long time, said Dan Slobin, a psycholinguist at the University of California, Berkeley. “Now the ice is breaking.”

People have thought about the profound impact of words on their world for centuries. Now, a surge of research in psychology, cognitive science and linguistics has sparked renewed discussion about the relationship between language and thought. The hypothesis first put forward fifty years ago by linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf—that our language significantly affects our experience of the world—is making a comeback in various forms, and with it no shortage of debate. The idea that language shapes thought was taboo for a long time, said Dan Slobin, a psycholinguist at the University of California, Berkeley. "Now the ice is breaking."

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