The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language

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There is a longstanding hypothesis in the field of linguistics that the language we speak shapes the way we see the world and influences our culture and worldview. But John H. McWhorter, linguistic professor and author, believes that this hypothesis is flawed, and that it’s more likely that language reflects culture and worldview, offering insight into a cultural viewpoint instead of dictating it.

The Language Hoax is McWhorter’s thorough attempt at not only explaining the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in detail, but refuting it with numerous linguistic examples that span the globe. From the absence of future tense in some languages to differences in phrasing when sentences are translated, this is undoubtedly one of the most complex and academic linguistic breakdowns I’ve ever encountered in print.

It reads like an extended-length term paper, as McWhorter regularly restates his thesis and takes us through minute variations of points he’s covered before. While on the academic level, he’s covering all the bases, this weighs heavily on a casual reader’s ability to maintain interest. His argument is persuasive in the extreme, though, to the point of irrefutability. I’d give his term paper an A, but I’d grade his narrative a bit more harshly.

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Star Count 3/5
Format Hard
Page Count 240 pages
Publisher Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date 2014-Apr-29
ISBN 9780199361588 Buy this Book
Issue May 2014
Category Science & Nature


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