29 August 2012

Language and the Mind

The Browser has posted an interview with Economist correspondent and author Robert Lane Greene entitled Language and the Mind. Greene writes The Economist’s highly regarded language blog, Johnson.

A sampler:
1) One of the most interesting things about language is the prejudices and ideas people have about it.
2) Ludwig Wittgenstein famously said: ‘The limits of my language mean the limits of my world’.
3) The Kuuk Thaayorre who live in northern Australia ... don't have words for relative directions. They don’t say ‘left’ or ‘right’ or ‘up’ or ‘down’ or ‘back’. They use only the cardinal directions i.e. north, south, east and west.
4 When people say x can’t be translated, what they usually mean is that you need a couple of words instead of one word.

My thoughts. 1: OK. 2: Turns out it's not true. 4: Clearly contradicted by the example given in 3!

I'll say no more.

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