On Everett & Piraha: "history holds the key"

Salinas17 at aol.com Salinas17 at aol.com
Tue Apr 24 19:38:53 UTC 2007

In a message dated 4/24/07 12:47:34 PM, Lise.Menn at Colorado.EDU writes:
<< Sapir's 1921 very accessible book 'Language' devotes a full chapter...to 
the independence of language and culture. >>

Just so that this is not misunderstood, Sapir was addressing anthropological 
cultures, not "human culture" in general.  He was fundamentally addressing the 
issue brought on by the 19th Century version of "cultural evolution" theory, 
which said that "superior races or cultures" showed themselves in having 
"superior languages."  This didn't really go to the relativistic question.

Sapir concluded in the chapter mentioned:
"From this it follows that all attempts to connect particular types of 
linguistic morphology with certain correlated stages of cultural development are 
vain. Rightly understood, such correlations are rubbish.... Both simple and 
complex types of language of an indefinite number of varieties may be found spoken 
at any desired level of cultural advance. When it comes to linguistic form, 
Plato walks with the Macedonian swineherd, Confucius with the head-hunting 
savage of Assam."

<BR><BR><BR>**************************************<BR> See what's free at 

More information about the Funknet mailing list