Even More on Language and Thought

I’m getting to like The Economist’s “Johnson” blog on language more and more. I was disappointed in their debut posts, but since then they’ve rapidly come up in my estimation.

This time around they’ve aptly summarized the work of Stanford linguist Lena Boroditsky that was recently reported in the Wall Street Journal’s “Lost in Translation” article. What’s especially impressive for a bunch of journos, is that they’ve managed to look past the press release and actually see the data (including error bars!).

To summarize, Boroditsky’s research reinforces what linguists have known for a long time, that language does influence thought but the effect is small and subtle. There is a grain of truth to Whorf’s theory, but it is nothing like Orwell made it out to be in 1984.

(Over a year ago, I linked to another article on Boroditsky’s work.)

[Edited to correct typos]

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