- Copertina rigida: 208 pagine
- Editore: OUP USA (10 luglio 2014)
- Lingua: Inglese
- ISBN-10: 0199361584
- ISBN-13: 978-0199361588
- Peso di spedizione: 249 g
- Posizione nella classifica Bestseller di Amazon: n. 129.663 in Libri in altre lingue (Visualizza i Top 100 nella categoria Libri in altre lingue)
- Visualizza indice completo
The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language (Inglese) Copertina rigida – 10 lug 2014
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In The Language Hoax - a "manifesto" - John.H Mcwhorter wishes to counter contemporary "neo-Whorfian" claims that significant cognitive differences are determined by people's mother tongues ... McWhorter covers some basic importatnt topics. (Michael Silverstein, The Times Literary Supplement)
Engrossing reading. (Kerstin Hoge, Times Higher Education)
In this succinct, accessible and engaging book, John McWhorter looks at the evidence and concludes that this popular idea is wrong. His argument is convincing and, despite its brevity, the book covers immense ground. Anyone fascinated by language would enjoy and learn from it. (Oliver Kamm, The Times)
He [McWhorter] is an engaging, persuasive writer, and although his book is unlikely to be the final word on the subject, it is a provocative and valuable addition to the debate. (Ian Critchley, The Sunday Times Ireland)
The Language Hoax is a welcome antidote to unqualified Whorfian claims and pronouncements. (Kerstin Hoge, Times Higher Education)
John McWhorter wishes to drive a stake through the heart of that claim, known as the Safir-Whorf hypothesis, or the language-as-lens theory. (Tom Bartlett, The Chronicle of Higher Education)
[McWhorter] tackles linguistic determinism― the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis―head on, arguing that world views are human, not strapped to one culture. (Nature)
McWhorter writes with liveliness and enthusiasm, noting: All languages are, in their own ways, as utterly awesome as creatures, snowflakes, Haydn string quartets, or what The Magnificent Ambersons would have been like if Orson Welles had been allowed to do the final edit. This book makes very accessible to the lay reader some of the more esoteric theories of linguistic studies. (Publishers Weekly)
a well-written and stimulating book that asks uncomfortable questions and turns common arguments on their head. The author uses examples from an impressive number of languages across the globe to provide counter-examples to claims that may easily be made (and occasionally have been made) about the influence of language on thought ... McWhorter manages the difficult task of properly positioning himself within the vast territory between the two extremes of linguistic determinism and biolinguistics. (Peter Backhaus, Linguist List)
this manifesto is thought-provoking and well-argued reading not only for the general public but also for linguists. (Angela Bartens, Sociolinguistic Studies)
John McWhorter is Professor of Linguistics at Columbia University and author of many books, including The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English, and What Language Is, What It Isn't, and What It Could Be. He also writes on language, as well as race and cultural issues, as Contributing Editor at The New Republic and Columnist at Time. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Time, and The New Yorker, and he has appeared often on National Public Radio, CSPAN and MSNBC.
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I suspect that anthropologists studying a specific people and their language tend to fixate on that people and that language and are prone to developing tunnel vision. Someone with the linguistic background of McWhorter has a much broader perspective. For example, some languages have "evidential markers", by which a speaker stating a proposition indicates how he knows it to be true and/or the degree of certainty he has concerning that proposition -- for example, whether he saw the chopping of logs, heard it, heard others talk about it, or whether thinks but is not sure logs were being chopped. One such language is Tuyaca, spoken by a people of the Amazon. Does that feature mean that Tuyacas are more sensitive to epistemological nuances or that they are more skeptical than people whose language does not employ evidential markers (such as English)? Whorfians are predisposed to think so. But broaden the inquiry to include all the languages of the world. The Ancient Greeks were renowned for their inherent skepticism, yet they had no evidential markers. Nor does any European language spoken today except Bulgarian. What, as McWhorter asks, do Bulgarians have in common with Tuyuca tribespeople that Czechs, Macedonians, and Poles do not? Evidential markers are common in the Native American languages of western North America, but not the ones in the east. They are present in one Aboriginal language in Australia but not in another related language spoken by nearby Aborigines living in identical circumstances. Broadening the inquiry to take in all, or at least many other, languages quells the impulse to think that features such as evidential markers exist because speakers "need" them in making sense of or coping with their world. As McWhorter discusses at some length, the explanation for differences in languages is not based on cultural "needs" but rather is a matter of chance.
I cannot begin to do justice in a short Amazon review to McWhorter's "manifesto" and all the arguments he marshals to support it. It is rather remarkable that he fits it all in a compact book of 180 pages of text. For such an academic subject, THE LANGUAGE HOAX is written rather informally. Nonetheless, it still can be difficult to track, primarily because of the dense syntactical constructions that McWhorter is prone to. (What, for example, does this sentence mean?: "However, from where the idea that what shapes thought is the word for something rather than the thing itself?" I had to read it four times before I made sense of it.) But even if I did not fully assimilate some of the book's nuances, I learned many fascinating things about language.
I should add that McWhorter does not quarrel with those he calls "Neo-Whorfians", who he acknowledges have shown, empirically, that language can have a subtle and overall minor effect on thought. What McWhorter wants to dispel is the notion that language shapes "world-views", such that an Eskimo, because he has umpteen different words for snow, cognitively sees the world and experiences life much differently than you or I, or likewise the Herero from Namibia because his language does not differentiate between blue and green, or the Pirahã of the Brazilian rain forest because her language does not contain words for different numbers.
At the same time, McWhorter shows language to be incredibly complex and protean. His enthusiasm for the fecundity of language is contagious. And it is that fecundity that, to him, is what is so amazing about language. "To think of the most interesting thing about language as being how it sheds light on its speakers' thought processes is like cherishing Beethoven's Seventh Symphony not for its nimble melodies, richness of harmony, surging thematic progressions, and stirring orchestration, but for the handful of dimly flickering hints that it just might lend us about what Beethoven was like as a dude." I for one am persuaded.
Well written, fun, and brilliant.
However, the book does come off as a little bit like a personal soapbox, which may turn some people off. For example, in his other books he can go entire sections presenting one side of an argument before offering the counterargument. In the Language Hoax it seems that he can barely go a paragraph before starting to dismantle it. That's why I'd say that compared to other books by McWhorter, this isn't his best as far as structure goes.
Others may not like this book because they've missed the point. McWhorter isn't speaking out against academic whorfianism. He's speaking out against where popular whorfianism has taken the ball and run with it.
Where McWhorter eventually lands on the issue is fantastic -- it's such an affirmation for all languages in a way that a Whorfian view could never do. If you're a linguist, anthropologist, or just a person who wants to see all people affirmed in their humanity, this is a goldmine of a book.