Podcast episode 31: The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

In this episode, we explore the historical background to linguistic relativity or the so-called ‘Sapir-Whorf hypothesis’.

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References for Episode 31

Primary sources

Boas, Franz, ed. (1911), Handbook of American Indian Languages, Part I, Washington DC: Government Printing Office. Google Books

Carroll, John B. (1956), Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. archive.org

Chase, Stuart (1938), The Tyranny of Words, New York: Harcourt, Brace and co. archive.org

Hoijer, Harry (1954), ‘The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis’, in Language in Culture: Proceedings of a conference on the interrelations of language and other aspects of culture, ed. by Harry Hoijer, 92–105, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. archive.org

Korzybski, Alfred (1933), Science and Sanity: An introduction to non-Aristotelian systems and general semantics, Lancaster: International Non-Aristotelian Library. archive.org

Mandelbaum, David G., ed. (1949), Selected Writings of Edward Sapir in Language, Culture and Personality, Berkeley: University of California Press. archive.org

Ogden, Charles Kay (1933 [1930]), Basic English: A general introduction with rules and grammar, London: Kegan Paul.

Ogden, Charles Kay and Ivor Armstrong Richards (1956 [1923]), The Meaning of Meaning, London: Kegan Paul. (Reprinting of tenth edition with finger: archive.org)

Sapir, Edward (1907), ‘Herder’s Ursprung der Sprache’, Modern Philology 5:1, 109–142.

Sapir, Edward (1921), Language, New York: Harcourt, Brace and co. archive.org

Sapir, Edward (1923), ‘An approach to symbolism’, review of Ogden and Richards (1923), The Freeman 7:22, 572–573. (Reprinted in Mandelbaum 1949, pp. 150–159.)

Sapir, Edward (1929), ‘Foundations of language’, International Auxiliary Language Association in the United States, Inc.: Annual Meeting, May 19, 1930, New York: IALA, pp. 16–18.

Sapir, Edward (1929 [1928]), ‘The status of linguistics as a science’, Language 5, 207–214. (Reprinted in Mandelbaum 1949, pp. 160–166.)

Sapir, Edward (1949 [1924]), ‘The grammarian and his language’, in Mandelbaum (1949), pp. 150–159. (Original published in American Mercury 1 [1924], 149–155.)

Whorf, Benjamin Lee (1956 [1940]), ‘Science and linguistics’, in Carroll (1956), pp. 207–219.

Whorf, Benjamin Lee (1956 [1941]a), ‘The relation of habitual thought and behavior to language’, in Carroll (1956), pp. 134–159.

Whorf, Benjamin Lee (1956 [1941]b), ‘Languages and logic’, in Carroll (1956), pp. 233–245.

Whorf, Benjamin Lee (1956 [1942]), ‘Language, mind, and reality’, in Carroll (1956), pp. 246–270.

Whorf, Benjamin Lee (1956 [1950]), ‘An American Indian model of the universe’, in Carroll (1956), pp. 57–64.

Secondary sources

Darnell, Regna (1990), Edward Sapir: Linguist, anthropologist, humanist, Berkeley: University of California Press. archive.org

Deutscher, Guy (2010), Through the Language Glass: Why the world looks different in other languages, New York: Random House.

Hirschkop, Ken (2019), Linguistic Turns, 1890–1950: Writing on language as social theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Joseph, John E. (1996), ‘The immediate sources of the “Sapir-Whorf hypothesis”’, Historiographia Linguistica 23:3, 365–404. (Revised and expanded version in Joseph 2002, pp. 71–105.)

Joseph, John E. (2002), From Whitney to Chomsky: Essays on the history of American linguistics, Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Koerner, E. F. Konrad (2002), ‘On the sources of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis’, in Toward a History of American Linguistics, ed. E. F. Konard Koerner, London: Routledge, pp. 39–62.

Lee, Penny (1996), The Whorf Theory Complex: A critical reconstruction, Amsterdam: Benjamins.

McElvenny, James (2014), ‘Ogden and Richards’ The Meaning of Meaning and early analytic philosophy’, Language Sciences 41, 212–221.

McElvenny, James (2015), ‘The application of C.K. Ogden’s semiotics in Basic English’, Language Problems and Language Planning 39:2, 187–204.

McElvenny, James (2018), Language and Meaning in the Age of Modernism: C. K. Ogden and his contemporaries, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

McElvenny, James (2023), ‘Gabelentz’ typology: Humboldtian linguistics on the threshold of structuralism’, in The Limits of Structuralism: Forgotten texts in the history of modern linguistics, ed. James McElvenny, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 81–101.

Posted in Podcast
One comment on “Podcast episode 31: The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
  1. Penny Lee says:

    A tight, concise, and well thought out exposition.

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