The Null Device

New research suggests that language structure shapes thinking patterns:
The word ''key,'' for example, is masculine in German and feminine in Spanish. Boroditsky recruited two groups of volunteers, native German speakers and native Spanish speakers, who spoke English well. She then asked them to name three adjectives to describe objects. She found a consistent pattern of German speakers using more masculine terms to describe the key - such as ''hard, heavy, jagged'' - while Spanish speakers favored more feminine descriptions, such as ''golden, intricate, lovely.''

Some are saying that this validates the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis; which is derided by many linguists (including Steven Pinker, who eviscerates it in The Language Instinct) as pseudoscience, and has become mostly the province of neo-Marxist social engineers in academe; but others argue that the effects demonstrated here are too trivial to count as proof of any meaningfully strong version of the hypothesis. (via Found)

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