Volume 20, Issue 3, Septiembre 2005
John A. Lucy
Through the Window of Language
Assessing the Influence of Language Diversity on Thought
The way we understand language diversity, how languages differ in representing reality, affects our approach to understanding linguistic relativity, how that diversity affects thought. Historically, researchers divided over whether the diverse representations of reality across languages were natural or conventional, but all tacitly assumed an optimal fit between language and reality. Twenrieth century anthropological linguists interested in linguisric relativity have questioned this assumption and sought to characterize “reality” without it by using domain- or structure-centered approaches. Arguments are presented favoring structure-centered approaches, along with a case illustration. A concluding discussion emphasizes the broader significance of language diversity in human development.