Laura Exline1 
Member since Oct 9, 2010



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Re: “The Whorf Hypothesis

For those of you who enjoyed this piece, I recommend that you read Guy Deutscher’s article “Does Your Language Shape How You Think,” published Aug. 26th 2010 on Here’s a sample of Deutscher’s article: “A German bridge is feminine (die Brücke), for instance, but el puente is masculine in Spanish; and the same goes for clocks, apartments, forks, newspapers, pockets, shoulders, stamps, tickets, violins, the sun, the world and love. On the other hand, an apple is masculine for Germans but feminine in Spanish, and so are chairs, brooms, butterflies, keys, mountains, stars, tables, wars, rain and garbage. When speakers were asked to grade various objects on a range of characteristics, Spanish speakers deemed bridges, clocks and violins to have more “manly properties” like strength, but Germans tended to think of them as more slender or elegant.” You may be experiencing the same uncomfortable feeling of déjà vu I felt when I read this passage in Evans’ article: “For instance, while in German, “bridge” (die Brücke) is feminine, in Spanish el puente is masculine. This is true of a host of nouns: clocks, apartments, forks, newspapers, pockets, shoulders, stamps, tickets and violins are feminine in German, masculine in Spanish. On the other hand, apples, brooms, butterflies, chairs, keys, mountains, stars and tables are masculine in German and feminine in Spanish. And sure enough, native Spanish speakers do deem bridges, clocks, apartments, and so on, to have more “manly properties” (like strength) while Germans tend to think of them as more slender or elegant, that is, feminine. And vice versa for, e.g., apples, brooms, chairs, etc.” Simply put, Evans plagiarized. “His” article lifts content, examples (e.g. schadenfreude), and even exact language from Deutscher’s piece without any reference to its source or its original author. Evans may believe he’s the only person behind the Redwood Curtain who reads below the fold in the NYTimes, but he should give his readers more credit.

Posted by Laura Exline on 10/09/2010 at 10:46 PM

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