W. Underhill James

in Humboldt, Worldview and Language

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780748638420
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671809 | DOI:

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This short chapter stresses the importance of Franz Boas’ empirical field research for the study of languages and anthropology, and especially for doing away with the idea of ‘primitive’ languages. It questions the idea that language ‘limits’ thought, and suggests that Boas tended to see grammatical and linguistic forms as ‘channels’ offered up to thinking individuals. Boas believed cultures found different ways of expressing themselves, and that thinking-in-language remains flexible in all cultures.

Keywords: Classification; Culture; Determinism; ‘Primitive’ Languages; Social Darwinism

Chapter.  1601 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics

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