An assessment of the Unicode standard

Terry Reedy tjreedy at udel.edu
Tue Sep 15 23:11:04 CEST 2009


Christopher Culver wrote:
> Robin Becker <robin at reportlab.com> writes:
>> well allegedly, "the medium is the message" so we also need to take
>> account of language in addition to the meaning of communications. I
>> don't believe all languages are equivalent in the meanings that they
>> can encode or convey. Our mathematics is heavily biassed towards
>> continuous differential systems and as a result we end up with many
>> physical theories that have smooth equilibrium descriptions, we may
>> literally be unable to get at other theories of the physical world
>> because our languages fall short.
> 
> This is the old Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which fell out of favour among
> linguists half a century ago already. 1) Language does not constrain
> human thought, and 2) any two human languages are both capable of
> expressing the same things, though one may already have a convenient
> lexeme for the topic at hand while the other uses circumlocution.

This is the old Lenneberg-Chomsky Universalist hypothesis, which has 
fallen out of favor among cognitive scientists and others as various 
researchers have done actual experiments to determine how and when 
language does and does not influence perception and thought.  See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_relativity




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