Language

whorf

A light hearted introduction



Some questions

• Is it reasonable to argue for the preservation of established forms of language, for example, as concerns grammar, spelling, syntax, meaning or use?

• Is one language common to the whole world a defensible project?

• What is the role of language in creating and reinforcing social distinctions, such as class, ethnicity and gender?

• What is the role of language in sustaining relationships of authority? Do people speak the same way to inferiors and superiors in a hierarchy? Does the professional authority speak in the same way as the person seeking opinion or advice? Can control of written language create or reinforce power?

• What may have been meant by the comment “How strangely do we diminish a thing as soon as we try to express it in words” (Maurice Maeterlinck)

• If people speak more than one language, is what they know different in each language? Does each language provide a different framework for reality?

• Is it possible to think without language? How does language facilitate, extend, direct or limit thinking?

(Questions sourced from here)

Resources

Laargermat Ch3 presentation

Guardian article about US military speak

‘Unspeak’ Words are Weapons – Steven Poole

Good TOK site on Language

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