Linguistic Hackles

Linguistic Hackles
الممشقات اللغوية /al-mumashshaqaatu-l-lughawiyyah/

The Other Kurumada

I’m still finding what I believe are linguistic myths being perpetrated in university curricula. I’m speaking about examining cultures by their spoken languages’ vocabulary. It seems we are so immediately gullible as to believe that whole societies cannot “progress” because “they don’t have a term for ___ (fill in the blank with some patently human term like, love, despair, hope, cell phone.)

This is a commonly cited false example of examining cultures and languages. It really raises my linguistic hackles. It was one of the first examples of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis that I learned was “bankrupt thought” in the words of one of my more colorful professors.
New words get introduced into languages all the time. A primary example is terms for food. We English speakers have no trouble adopting new terms without blinking. Sure you could do what the Germans do and call chili “Mexikanischebohnensuppe,” but, we anglophones seem…

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