Here are some links relating to topics covered in my Funzing Singapore Talk, Does Your Language Control You?
Articles about Through the Language Glass:Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages by Guy Deutscher (2010):
- Does your language shape how you think? by Guy Deutscher (New York Times)
- interview with Guy Deutscher (The Guardian)
- Focusing on color (The Guardian)
- another interview with Guy Deutscher (Paris Review)
- The main thrust of the book (Boston.com)
A more personal, less academic take on the subject, which is nevertheless full of interesting technical insight:
You are performing a feat of interpretation anytime you attempt to communicate with someone who is not like you.
Linguists have attempted to make an objective assessment of the relative difficulty of languages by breaking them down into parts. One factor is the level of inflection, or the amount of information that a language carries on a single word. The languages of large, literate societies usually have larger vocabularies. You might think that their structures are also more elaborate, but the opposite is generally true: the simpler the society, the more baroque its morphology…. Because large societies have frequent interaction with outsiders, their languages undergo simplification. Members of relatively homogeneous groups, on the other hand, share a base of common knowledge, enabling them to pile on declensions without confusing one another. Small languages stay spiky. But, amid waves of contact, large languages lose their sharp edges, becoming bevelled as pieces of glass.
More on the Language Weirdness Index.
A summary of some findings about language weirdness.
The database of properties of languages used to compute the weirdness index: The World Atlas of Linguistics Structures Online.
American humorist Mark Twain writes hilariously of his struggles with German in his essay “The Awful German Language”, originally an appendix to his semi-autobiographical novel A Tramp Abroad.
Journalistic cliches are called “snowclones” because of how often it has been repeated that Eskimos have a large number of words for snow.
Japan’s blue stoplights:
Lera Boroditsky and Linguistic Relativity
More from Lera in text form:
How does your language shape the way we think? by Lera Boroditsky
More on Linguistic Relativity
Research on Color