• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Language limits what you can think.

Extracts from this document...


ESSAY: The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states "language limits what you can think". How far do you agree with this statement? You can find a great variety of definitions for language because actually this word does not have a real definition. Language can be a system of communication using symbols, physical gestures, sounds and others means of expression. However there are three conditions that must be followed by this system to it be classified as a language. It has to be rule-governed, which means that it has to have vocabulary and grammar. It has to be intended. And it also has to be open-ended which means without limits or restrictions and allowed to future modifications. ...read more.


The linguistic relativism states that the language you speak determines the way that you interpret the world around you, in other words, people experience the world based on the grammatical structures they habitually use. A great example for it is that "speakers of different languages may see different numbers if bands in a rainbow". It happens because actually rainbow is a continuum of color, there are no empirical stripes or bands, so people see as many bands of colors as their language possesses. That is, the words we possess determine the things that we can know. The second main idea of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is the linguistic realism. ...read more.


So, the language starts of the necessity of express our thoughts. So, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis can be used in different contexts. Yes, there are situations in which the language does limit your thought and consequently what you want to say like for example in the case of the rainbows, as showed before. But there are also situations in which this statement is not true, situations in which the language does not limit our though because it does not exist yet, for example with the babies in which the language born of the necessity of express their thoughts. So, to this days the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis has not been completely disputed or defended, but has continued to intrigue researches around the world. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge essays

  1. TOK essay: The vocabulary we have does more than communicate our language, it shapes ...

    Vocabulary can familiarize people with new things and concepts they did not know existed. Taking the example of the languages of Sami people having a variety of words to describe different kinds of snow. Someone studying a Sami language can gain an understanding and ability to know and distinguish between

  2. Does Language Determine or Limit Thought?

    Therefore, although different forms of communication have different factors that limit thought, some of these factors apply to more than one form of communication, like sarcasm applies to verbal and written. But, even though some forms of communication have the same factors that limit thought, one form might be more

  1. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

    The claim states that: "we dissect nature along the lines led down by our native language". It is continued with "we cut up, organize it into concepts and ascribe significance as we do". This claim summarizes the previously mentioned study, with the only difference being that the study involved shapes and the claim implicates nature.

  2. Does language determine or limit thought?

    be expressed with the use of language then it does not exist to others (or it is not known). For instance, "if someone doesn't believe in fairies, he doesn't need to teach his children 'there are no fairies'; he can omit to teach them the word 'fairy'."

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work