An assessment of the Unicode standard

Hendrik van Rooyen hendrik at
Fri Sep 18 09:02:31 CEST 2009

On Thursday 17 September 2009 15:29:38 Tim Rowe wrote:

> There are good reasons for it falling out of favour, though. At the
> time of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, anthropologists were arguing that
> members of a certain remote tribe did not experience grief on the
> death of a child because their language did not have a word for grief.
> They showed all the *signs* of grief -- weeping and wailing and so on
> -- and sometimes used metaphors ("I feel as if my inside is being
> crushed"). But because of the conviction at the time that "if your
> language does not have a word for something, and you have never seen
> that object, then you "__cannot__" think about it" the anthropologists
> were convinced that this just looked and sounded like grief and wasn't
> actually grief.

This is kind of convincing, when applied to an emotion like that.  The whole 
thing is obviously a lot more complicated than the position I have taken 
here - if it weren't, then there would be no way for a language to change  
and grow, if it were literally true that you cannot think of something  that 
you have no word for.

> By the way, at the moment I am thinking of a sort of purple
> blob-shaped monster with tentacles and fangs, that my language doesn't
> have a word for and that I have never seen. On your theory, how come I
> am thinking about it?

I do not really believe you are thinking about a purple people eater. - you 
must be mistaken.


- Hendrik

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