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  • If you've ever learned another language,

  • then you know that some words don't translate exactly.

  • For example, there's a language in New Guinea that

  • only has two words for color-- mola,

  • meaning "bright," and mili, meaning "dark."

  • Now compare that to English.

  • We have lots of words for color--

  • blue, green, teal, mauve, all that stuff.

  • But does the fact that we have different words for color

  • mean that we actually think about color differently?

  • And your answer to that question places you

  • on one position of the great language-thought debate.

  • Which comes first?

  • And we have different theories that we

  • can place sort of on a spectrum.

  • And on one end, we have something called universalism.

  • This theory says that thought comes before language.

  • So your thoughts dictate the language that develops.

  • So going back to our New Guinean example,

  • a universalist would say that that group of people

  • only thinks in terms of bright and dark,

  • and if they had concepts or ideas about other colors,

  • then they would develop words for them

  • in order to express those thoughts.

  • So with universalism, we have the idea

  • that thought determines language completely.

  • And now here, at this point, we have the idea

  • that thought influences language.

  • Just a little bit gentler of a statement.

  • And this is the idea that Piaget ascribed to.

  • Piaget came up with a theory of cognitive development

  • in children, and it was because of this and his observations

  • of children that he believed that once children

  • were able to think in a certain way,

  • then they developed the language to describe those thoughts.

  • So, for example, when children learn that objects continue

  • to exist even though they can't see them,

  • that's when they start to develop words

  • like "gone" and "missing," "find."

  • So their language development is influenced

  • by their cognitive development and their newly-discovered

  • ability to understand that objects exist,

  • even when they can't see them anymore.

  • So that's what Piaget thought.

  • And now, a little further down, towards the more middle ground,

  • we have Vygotsky.

  • And Vygotsky thought that language and thought are

  • independent, but they converge through development.

  • So he didn't really say if language influenced thought

  • or if thought influenced language.

  • He just said they're both there, they're both independent,

  • but eventually, you learn to use them at the same time.

  • Because Vygotsky believed that children

  • develop language through social interaction

  • with adults who already know the language.

  • And through that interaction, then they

  • learn to connect their thoughts and the language

  • that they eventually learn.

  • OK, so now we're crossing over the middle ground

  • into the world that believes language

  • has an influence on thought.

  • And we have a couple of positions here,

  • and they both fall under the category

  • of linguistic determinism.

  • So these are called the weak and the strong hypotheses.

  • And this isn't a value judgment on how good they are

  • or how well-established they are.

  • It just refers to how much influence

  • they think language has on thought.

  • So weak linguistic determinism says

  • that language influences thought.

  • It makes it easier or more common

  • for us to think in certain ways depending

  • on how our language is structured.

  • So, for example, I'm going to read you a sentence,

  • and I want you to draw it out or at least vividly imagine it.

  • "The girl pushes the boy."

  • OK, so however you drew that out or imagined it,

  • if you drew it this way, with the girl on the left pushing

  • the boy toward the right, than your native language probably

  • reads from left to right, like English.

  • If you drew the girl pushing the boy this way,

  • with the girl on the right pushing toward the left,

  • then your native language might be

  • one that reads from right to left, like Hebrew.

  • Now, it's not that you can't or didn't even draw it

  • the other way.

  • It's just that, depending on how your language is structured,

  • it makes it more likely or easier

  • for you to think about that action in a certain direction.

  • Now, strong linguistic determinism

  • takes a more extreme view and says

  • that language determines thought completely.

  • This is also called the Whorfian hypothesis,

  • because the guy that came up with it, his name was Whorf.

  • And he observed that there is a Native American tribe called

  • the Hopi that don't have any grammatical tense

  • in their language, and he thought

  • that meant that they couldn't think

  • about time in the same way.

  • Later, people studying the language

  • found that the Hopi have a different way

  • of expressing past, present, and future.

  • So we don't have an answer yet for which of these perspectives

  • is the correct one, and people are still doing research

  • to try to discover which one is the most accurate.

  • But now you're aware of the main perspectives

  • on the relationship between thought and language.

  • And now, when you're learning a foreign language,

  • you can think about how the language you're learning

  • is influencing your thoughts, or vice-versa, how

  • your thoughts are affecting your interpretation of the language.

If you've ever learned another language,

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A2 初級

言語と認知の理論 (Theories of Language and Cognition)

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    Liao Jess に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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