Listen to Lexicon Valley Episode No. 38: Fisherman's Whorf
It's become fashionable in recent years to tout the notion that the language you speak affects the way you think, and even influences how you experience reality itself. It’s an attractive idea, and one that makes some visceral sense. English, with its unique structure and grammar and vocabulary, will necessarily bestow a particular worldview that is different from that of Russian, say, or any of the other roughly 6,000 languages still spoken on Earth, right? That's simply not true, says linguist and Columbia University professor John McWhorter, who tears apart the more hyperbolic claims in his manifesto, The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language. Listen to a conversation with Mike Vuolo, Bob Garfield, and McWhorter, who explains how the popular media get the so-called Whorf Hypothesis all wrong.
You'll find every Lexicon Valley episode at slate.com/lexiconvalley, or in the player below:
Send your thoughts about the show to firstname.lastname@example.org.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Democrats’ War at Home
How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans
How Did the Royals Win Despite Bunting So Many Times? Bunting Is a Terrible Strategy.
Catacombs Where You Can Stroll Down Hallways Lined With Corpses
Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.
How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.
How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully
On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.