LINGUIST List 2.603

Tue 01 Oct 1991

Disc: Whorf and Plurals

Editor for this issue: <>


  • , Re: 2.588 Responses: Whorf, Einstein, Change
  • , Re: 2.588 Responses: Whorf, Einstein, Change
  • , Re: 2.594 Queries: Whorf
  • Ellen Prince, Re: 2.599 Plurals
  • Michael Covington, Re: 2.599 Plurals

    Message 1: Re: 2.588 Responses: Whorf, Einstein, Change

    Date: Mon, 30 Sep 91 09:50 EST
    From: <>
    Subject: Re: 2.588 Responses: Whorf, Einstein, Change
    This is a reply to Manater-Ramer's suspicion that Hoijer is (in part) res- ponsible for perpetrating the idea that Whorf believed that the language someone speaking structures their thinking about the world. At a conference in the 50s on the Whorf hypothesis (I can dig up the reference if necessary), Hoijer felt compelled to get up and tell the assembly of linguists, anthro- pologists, and psychologists, who had been happily beating on what they thought was Whorf, that they had best read the original. Hoijer was specifically annoyed that these scholar's had taken the inverted view of Whorf's ideas that Manaster-Ramer derides. (No, I wan't at that confer- ence, but Hoijer's reaction was noted down -- perhaps in his obituary in Language). John Kingston University of Massachusetts

    Message 2: Re: 2.588 Responses: Whorf, Einstein, Change

    Date: 30 September 91, 15:33:10 SET
    From: <>
    Subject: Re: 2.588 Responses: Whorf, Einstein, Change
    (1) Subject : Whorf > One's world view is determined by the language one speaks This is in the order of belief (which, by the way, I share). Now, is there any way to demonstrate/show/prove/determine *how* the language determine one's view ? To my knowledge, no. Marc

    Message 3: Re: 2.594 Queries: Whorf

    Date: Mon, 30 Sep 91 10:12:55 -0500
    From: <>
    Subject: Re: 2.594 Queries: Whorf
    >Here's this week's subject for an empirical study of attitudes toward >language. On the basis of unsystematic observation and impressionistic >judgements which are confirmed by all other linguists I've consulted, it >would appear that the view that one's world view is determined by the >language one speaks is nearly universally accepted by educated people >who aren't linguists. I guess I don't find that particularly strange >(a lot of my friends, however, consider ME extremenly strange for >being skeptical on this point); I DO find it somewhat odd that people >who accept this view seem to think that it is (a) obviously correct, and >(b) profound, a contradiction in terms. I welcome further data and insights. > >Michael Kac If you credit yourself with sufficient intelligence there is no *contradiction* in finding something obviously correct and profound at the same time. It is not illogical to be conceited. My belief is that the question is potentially empirical ("potentially" because the concept of 'world view' could do with some explication before we start devising psycholinguistic experiments), but that its empirical nature is obscured by current deeply-entrenched mentalist conceptions of grammar and lexicon. If you believe that a grammatical or lexical description cannot be understood as anything but a description of cognitive structures, then it may start looking obvious that grammar and lexicon must determine the way you think and perceive. Helge Dyvik

    Message 4: Re: 2.599 Plurals

    Date: Mon, 30 Sep 91 22:34:27 -0400
    From: Ellen Prince <>
    Subject: Re: 2.599 Plurals
    >From: "Michael Kac" <> >Subject: Re: 2.589 Odd Plurals >For all you Latin fans out there: next time you hear someone complaining >about the use of words like *bacteria* and *media* as singulars in English, >ask what they do with *agenda* and *propoganda*. not to mention *data*...

    Message 5: Re: 2.599 Plurals

    Date: Mon, 30 Sep 91 22:39:14 EDT
    From: Michael Covington <>
    Subject: Re: 2.599 Plurals
    "Propaganda" is not a Latin plural. It is originally a feminine ablative singular, from "Congregatio de Propaganda Fide" ("Organization to Propagate the Faith," roughly; non-Latinists note that "Propaganda" is a gerundive, i.e., a passive future-or-optative-or-something participle). But then, "bus" is part of an inflectional ending... - Michael A. Covington internet - - Artificial Intelligence Programs bitnet MCOVINGTUGA - - Graduate Studies Research Center phone 404 542-0359 - - The University of Georgia fax 404 542-0349 - - Athens, Georgia 30602 bix, mci mail MCOVINGTON - - U.S.A. packet radio N4TMIWB4BSG -