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mould theory


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The idea that language moulds thought rather than simply expressing it. According to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, content is bound up with linguistic form, and the use of the medium contributes to shaping the meaning. In common usage, we often talk of different verbal formulations ‘meaning the same thing’, but for those of a Whorfian persuasion, such as Fish, ‘it is impossible to mean the same thing in two (or more) different ways’ (at least in literary contexts). Reformulating something transforms the ways in which meanings may be made with it, and in this sense, form and content are inseparable. From this so-called monist stance words are not merely the ‘dress’ of thought as they are in cloak theory. See also linguistic determinism.

Subjects: Media Studies.


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