The Whorf Theory Complex

A critical reconstruction

Penny Lee | The University of Western Australia
ISBN 9789027245694 (Eur) | EUR 120.00
ISBN 9781556196188 (USA) | USD 180.00
ISBN 9789027245700 (Eur) | EUR 44.00
ISBN 9781556196195 (USA) | USD 66.00
ISBN 9789027283900 | EUR 120.00/44.00*
| USD 180.00/66.00*
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At last — a comprehensive account of the ideas of Benjamin Lee Whorf which not only explains the nature and logic of the linguistic relativity principle but also situates it within a larger ‘theory complex’ delineated in fascinating detail. Whorf’s almost unknown unpublished writings (as well as his published papers) are drawn on to show how twelve elements of theory interweave in a sophisticated account of relations between language, mind, and experience. The role of language in cognition is revealed as a central concern, some of his insights having interesting affinity with modern connectionism. Whorf’s gestaltic ‘isolates’ of experience and meaning, crucial to understanding his reasoning about linguistic relativity, are explained. A little known report written for the Yale anthropology department is used extensively and published for the first time as an appendix. With the Whorf centenary in 1997, this book provides a timely challenge to those who take pleasure in debunking his ideas without bothering to explore their subtlety or even reading them in their original form.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“[A]n informative contribution to the history of linguistics, and also to current linguistics, since the better understanding of Whorf’s writings which it provides sheds light, as Lee points out, on many areas of research, both current and potential. [...] Lee is keen to point out that Whorf‘s notions of patternment and entrenchment have their echoes in more recent thinking, in particular connectionist models of cognition: this is an intriguing parallel, which one may hope will be explored in greater detail in future. [...] Though the Whorfian hypothesis will presumably continue to be a source of controversy, this volume brings us the most detailed and instructive survey of Whorf’s thinking to date.”
“[...] a valuable addition to the extant on Whorf, and a necessay corrective to pervasive misconstruals of his ideas. An essential read for all scholars interested in the topic – especially cognitivists.”
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Main BIC Subject

CF: Linguistics

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
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U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  96021119 | Marc record