Cognitive Linguistics and Linguistic Relativity

Eric Pederson

in The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199738632
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Cognitive Linguistics and Linguistic Relativity


Linguistic relativity (also known as the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis) is a general cover term for the conjunction of two basic notions. The first notion is that languages are relative, that is, that they vary in their expression of concepts in noteworthy ways. The second notion is that the linguistic expression of concepts has some degree of influence over conceptualization in cognitive domains, which need not necessarily be linguistically mediated. This article explores the treatment of linguistic relativity within works generally representative of cognitive linguistics and presents a survey of classic and more modern (pre- and post-1980s) research within linguistics, anthropology, and psychology. First, it provides a brief overview of the history of linguistic relativity theorizing from Wilhelm von Humboldt through to Benjamin Whorf. It then discusses the role of literacy to cognitive and cultural development, folk classification, and formulations of linguistic relativity.

Keywords: Wilhelm von Humboldt; linguistic relativity; Benjamin Whorf; cognitive linguistics; linguistics; anthropology; psychology; literacy; folk classification

Article.  14018 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Cognitive Linguistics

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