Study of obscure Amazon tribe sheds new light on how language affects perception (fwd)

Donald Z. Osborn dzo at BISHARAT.NET
Fri Aug 27 00:23:51 UTC 2004

I'm not sure what the late Senegalese scholar Cheick Anta Diop would do with
regard to language were he were alive today, but a half-century ago he made a
point of translating an explanation of the theory of relativity as well as
several literary passages from European languages into Wolof (published in
Présence Africaine in 1955). I don't speak that language, but as I understand
it he was not relying on borrowed words but rather using terms existing in
Wolof. Still an interesting example and point of reference when discussions
such as this come up.

Don Osborn

Quoting Matthew Ward <mward at LUNA.CC.NM.US>:

> I would suspect that if such words exist in tribal languages, they were
> recently coined or borrowed--after all, many of them are relatively new
> concepts even in the cultures which they originated in.  Words for these
> terms exist in all the languages that I speak, but many are relatively
> recent coinaged created to deal with new concepts.  The important thing
> is that both languages and cultures are flexible, and can accomodate new
> concepts as needed.
[ . . . ]

More information about the Ilat mailing list