Is there intrinsic value in human linguistic diversity?
Stanford psychologist Lera Boroditsky has found from field work in China, Greece, Chile, Indonesia, Russia, and Aboriginal Australia that “people who speak different languages do indeed think differently, and even flukes of grammar can profoundly affect how we see the world.”
For example, Aborigines in north Australia are deeply oriented to the cardinal directions. “You have to stay oriented at all times,” Boroditsky says, or “else you cannot speak properly.
The normal greeting in Kuuk Thaayorre is ‘Where are you going?’ and the answer should be something like ‘Southsoutheast, in the middle distance.’ If you don’t know which way you’re facing, you can’t even get past ‘Hello.'”
Boroditsky will talk about “How Language Shapes Thought” at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, San Francisco, 7 pm, Tuesday, October 26, 2010. Long Now Members can reserve a seat HERE or you can purchase tickets for $10 HERE.