Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

OT: Helen Keller & Whorf-Sapir

From:Caleb <cph9fa@...>
Date:Wednesday, August 11, 2004, 23:46
The other day, on the way to work, I was listening to NPR, and caught
the tail end of an article about Helen Keller. This got me thinking
about the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis. Now I don't claim to be a linguist,
so I could be wrong, but my understanding is that this basically says
that one's language defines the way we see the world. If this is the
case, then I wonder what Helen Keller's perception of the world would
have been before learning to communicate.

1) One possibility, I suppose, could be that she came up with her own
sort of internal 'language', completely different and independent of
English and unrelated to spoken words. It would have to be
a 'language' based on touch, texture, and motion, rather than
abstract words. But it would also suggest that language is an
inherent part of the human mind, and that the human mind is capable
of creating language without needing to be taught it.

2) OTOH, if the mind weren't capable of creating its own language,
then Helen Keller would have been language-less, and would not have
had any way of interpreting the world or interacting with it
(according to Whorf Sapir).

3) Since 2 is apparently false (Helen Keller was capable of
interacting, albeit rudely, with the world), assumming the truth of
Whorf-Sapir seems to imply the truth of 1)

Not really any question here on my part, just some food for thought.



Mark P. Line <mark@...>
Amanda Babcock <ababcock@...>