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  • Titill er á ensku Can Language Affect Thought? An Overview of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis and Examination of the Grammatical Gender in Regard to the Theory
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    The ever so contentious subject on the idea of whether or not the language we speak could have a distinct effect on the way we perceive the world around us is an interesting field for any linguist to examine and research. The idea most often referred to as the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis or the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis appears to have divided linguists into two opposing groups, as with most theories and hypotheses, where opposition is rarely absent. What makes the subject so controversial is perhaps the lack of concrete information available and the difficulty in obtaining precise results when the hypothesis is tested. It is the idea that the language of a respective speaker shapes the way he conceives the world around him.In other words, that his cognitive processes are in some way impacted by the language he speaks, and not the other way around. There are a great variety of forms by which this theory can be looked at. We can examine the effect of a particular language on the comprehension of time and space, colors as well as the grammatical gender. In this paper all factors will be examined, however the main focus will be on the grammatical gender in an attempt to find affirmative evidence for the hypothesis. A small survey is conducted where the grammatical gender is examined and contrasted between native speakers of English and native speakers of Icelandic by looking at the way the participants choose to assign genders to specific nouns. Albeit small, the results of the survey indicate some supporting evidence for the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, in that the traditional attributes and characteristics of each noun appears to have some correlation with the way native English speakers choose to assign imaginary genders to words that grammatically have no gender in modern English

  • 10.5.2016

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