Sapir-Whorf summary

Michele Feist shelli at BABEL.LING.NWU.EDU
Fri Apr 4 22:40:28 UTC 1997


A few weeks ago, I posted the query to these lists:

 I'm a graduate student at Northwestern University doing work in
 psycholinguistics. I would like to find out about the current status of
 the Sapir-Whorf 'hypothesis'. Specifically, what has been done recently in
 connection with this idea ('Neo-Whorfianism'), and what is the status of
 that research?

I'm sorry to have taken so long on the summary - as you'll see, my query
generated quite a few responses.

Many thanks to all those who responded:

Alan C.L. Yu  charon at
David Kronenfeld  KFELD at
Phyllis Wilcox  pwilcox at
Morton Ann Gernsbacher   MAGernsb at
Herb Stahlke  hstahlke at
Richard Scherl  scherl at
Bill Turkel  bill at
Dan I. SLOBIN  slobin at cogsci.Berkeley.EDU
Paul Peranteau   paul at
Irene Pepperberg  imp at
Douglas S. Oliver   DOUGLASO at
Catherine Harris  charris at
Lawrence W. Barsalou  L-Barsalou at
George Lakoff   lakoff at cogsci.Berkeley.EDU
Jeri L. Moxley  jmoxley at
Art Glenberg   glenberg at
Don Peterkin   dpeterkin at
Maria D. Sera  Maria.D.Sera-1 at
Jiansheng Guo   Jiansheng.Guo at
Paul R. Hays  hays at
Gary B. Palmer  gbp at
H Stephen Straight  sstraigh at
Michael Hall  s_mjhall at eduserv.its.unimelb.EDU.AU
Matthias Huening  matthias.huenin at
Carsten Hansen  carhan at
Elisabeth Engberg-Pedersen   eep at
Joseph Hilferty   hilferty at
Steen Wackerhausen  FILSW at
Dick Hudson  dick at
Michelina Bonanno  bonannom at
Jane A. Edwards  edwards at cogsci.Berkeley.EDU
Caitlin Hines  chines at
Patricia Kilroe  kilroe at
John Lucy   John.Lucy at
Christopher Sinha   psykcgs at

In addition to the references that I list below, I received the following

Consult work by Dan Slobin, Eric Pederson, Stephen Levinson, Suzette
Elgin, and Melissa Bowerman, in addition to Piaget's work on child
language development and work on Systemic Functional Linguistics, which
was founded by Michael Halliday.

The first Bohmian Science Dialogue Between Indigenous and Western
Scientists involved Native American (academic and traditional) leaders and
selected physicists, linguists, psychologists and others -- all of whom
took Benjamin Whorf seriously.  For a transcript, write to Carol Hegedus,
Fetzer Institute, 9292 West KL Ave, Kalamazoo MI 49009.

Caitlin Hines is chairing a panel on Whorf in Amsterdam this summer.

There has been discussion of Whorf on the Linguist List, which can be
accessed at; there will also be a 'topic page' on
this subject at the Linguist-site soon:

Finally, I was given the following references (I have lots of reading
ahead of me now!):

Alford, Dan Moonhawk,  "Stealing the Fire, A Linguistic Overview of
This Century's Advances in Physics", given AAA/SAC March 25, 1996.

Alford, Dan Moonhawk.  "The Demise of Whorf Hypothesis". Proceedings
of the Fourth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society,
Feb. 1978: 485-499.

Alford, Dan Moonhawk, "Is Whorf's Relativity Einstein's Relativity?",
Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics
Society Feb. 1981, 13-26.

Berlin, Brent and Paul Kay.  Basic Color Terms.  Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1991[1969].
Black, Max.  Models and Metaphor.  New York: Cornell University Press,

Black, Max. "Some Troubles with Whorfianism" in Language and
Philosophy.  Ed. Sidney Hook. New York: New York University Press,
1969: 30-35.

Bloom, Alfred H. The linguistic shaping of thought: A study in the
impact of language on thinking in China and the west.  Lawrence
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Brown, C. H.  "Folk Zoological Life-forms: Their Universality and
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Brown, C.H. "Folk Botanical Life-forms: Their Universality and Growth"
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Brown, Roger.  Words and Things.  Glencoe: Free Press, 1958.

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Thanks again to all who replied!

Michele Feist
m-feist at

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