“They [the Whorfians] sometimes make the environment identical with the ‘thought world’ of a people and thus claim a direct, one-to-one correspondence between word and whatever segment of the flowing face of nature has been perceptually isolated” (16). **allusion to the aforementioned Apache ‘waterfall’ word analysis? Isn’t this a rehash of The Phaedrus?
“They move from the self-evident fact that the environment and language are correlated in the context of culture to the unwarranted inference that language must have an influence on perception…If the conception of language as a system of names, and if naming is seen as a point-to-point matching (even if the points are themselves events)…[oh now THAT’s Latourian!]…of a linguistic map to a territory, to the ‘physical situation qua physics’, then the significance of the phenomenon of multiple names will be that it indicates that there must be as many realities as there are names…a restatement of the strong Whorf hypothesis” (16). ***And ANT does employ the map as a metaphor, flattening out, ridding dimension… I wonder to what extent Berthoff would consider Latourian ANT to be ‘positivist’. What is Latour’s theory of language? (I forget… must go back and look at that.)
“Boas argued all along that the differences between men are to be accounted for not in terms of the way their languages represent reality but in terms of the mediation their culture provides:
It does not seem likely…that there is any direct relationship between the culture of a tribe and the language they speak, except insofar as the form of the language will be moulded by the state of culture, but not insofar as a certain state of culture is conditioned by morphological traits of the language…[The reason for any shortcomings of the primitive mind lies] in the character of the traditional ideas by mean of which each new perception is interpreted. (1938: 219-220).
…The Whorfians…in support of the hypothesis of linguistic relativity…reduce naming to labeling; they conflate morphology and acts of mind; they confuse environment and culture” (17). **What does this mean? Why does she make a distinction here? This seems particularly important to my conception of “the prepared environment” and conception of where Berthoff fits in the scheme of the field’s scholarship. But I don’t know how yet.
Leave a Reply