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Never did I think ToK would make me gasp in awe at the human race.

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So, here's the context.

I'm currently researching a ToK Presentation I have to do tomorrow in how Language affects Thought (or whether it's the other way around, etc). Here's my initial example (c&p from my speech)

My initial example is of a Stanford researcher named Lera Boroditsky.

Boroditsky and her colleagues set up an experiment where English, Hebrew and Kuuk Thaayorre speakers where given sets of pictures that showed temporal progressions – for example, a man aging. They then asked each of the participants to put the photographs in correct temporal order.

Each English speaker arranged the photos in correct temporal progression from left to right – the picture where the man was youngest was put left, and the picture depicting him as oldest was put on the right. Keep in mind that English is written from left to right.

Hebrew is written from right to left, and sure enough, Hebrew speakers did the same as the English speakers, but from right to left rather than left to right.

Kuuk Thaayorre is a language which relies heavily on cardinal directions, and Kuuk Thaayorre speakers would say something like “The fork is north of the spoon”.

When Kuuk Thaayorre speakers were asked to do the same as the English speakers. However, the speakers of Kuuk Thaayorre didn’t put them in order of time. Rather, as you went right to left, the person in the photograph was facing more and more North. Keep in mind that in each picture, the person in the photograph was still facing the camera, and none of the groups were told which cardinal direction the subject was facing. The Kuuk Thaayorre speakers somehow spontaneously worked this out and put the pictures in that order and construct their representations of time.

Edited by timtamboy63

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Guest IBkidd

WOW, thats like the most amazing stuff i read since i took psychology sl :rolleyes:

its super cool!!

but anyways, i think its an example of how thought affects language...becuz they think that and THEN try to "phrase" it, kind of if u get what i mean.

and also, a question that came to me was whether arranging pictures is a language? and how would u justify that?

also, now i would either try to find another example which shows the contra persective, i.e. how language can affects thought. and for this one, i would recommend u take the famous psychological experiment by Loftus and Palmer about a car crash, where they used different words like smashed, bumped, hit, contacted, etc. and asked for the speed estimate and each time participants wrote down a different speed estimate depending on what connotation they related with that word....

lol, this sounds so complicated :? sorry, but if u wanna know more bout the experiment just google it or ask me ;)

hope it helped (which i doubt^^) :hypocrite:


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We watched that video too!! I was pretty amazed by it as well :) Interesting, isn't it? How everyone "thinks" differently? Time is an abstract concept. Us humans invented it. Well, one can argue by saying that time has always existed, but we came up with the concept of time, anyway.

Another interesting thing with language is when it comes to translation, and how when you translate something into another language, you loose much of the sense of it. One example I remember Lera B. saying (it's been quite a few months since I watched that clip), but I remember her talking about translating into, I believe it was Russian, the verbe would indicate, in this sentence:

"Tom read the book."

The verb woule indicate how much of the book Tom read. The whole book, the first few pages only?

Also, in this following sentence:

"Jamie broke the vase."

In Spanish, you would indicate HOW the vase broke. Was it an accident, intentional? This makes it harder to have a neutral position in, let's say, in court. If I were to present this statement in Spanish, and I say that it was intentional, then Jamie would definitely be looked down upon, in my opinion.

And one more example is when we talk about colours. If I were to ask you to think of the colour blue, what would you imagine? Would you see a dark shade of blue, or a lighter one? Or what about the sky, or the ocean? What would you imagine?

These are all examples of the ambiguities in the language :) Fascinating, huh?

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