Student Author Information

Holly PetersonFollow

Access Type

Campus Access Only

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Start Date

April 2019

Department

English

Abstract

The ideas of Sapir, including the idea that “no two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality,” were the building blocks of what would later become the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Despite what the theory suggested, the linguistic differences that exist between languages do not isolate speakers from one another. The grammatical or pragmatic concepts that describe ideas and views specific to languages are able to be explained and understood by speakers of different languages. It is not always possible to make a word-for word translation between two languages, because of the difference in grammatical structures. However, presenting languages as insurmountable obstacles, which is a facet of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, is a dangerous idea, because it creates differences between people where differences do not exist. With detailed description, metalinguistic awareness, and knowledgeable researchers and translators, people are able to understand a language different than their own. The ideas and points of view specific to languages from around the world are not mysterious and off-limits to people outside of the speaker group; they can be discovered, identified, and most importantly, understood.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Layne

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Apr 10th, 9:00 AM

Lost in Translation?: Translation Studies vs. the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

The ideas of Sapir, including the idea that “no two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality,” were the building blocks of what would later become the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Despite what the theory suggested, the linguistic differences that exist between languages do not isolate speakers from one another. The grammatical or pragmatic concepts that describe ideas and views specific to languages are able to be explained and understood by speakers of different languages. It is not always possible to make a word-for word translation between two languages, because of the difference in grammatical structures. However, presenting languages as insurmountable obstacles, which is a facet of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, is a dangerous idea, because it creates differences between people where differences do not exist. With detailed description, metalinguistic awareness, and knowledgeable researchers and translators, people are able to understand a language different than their own. The ideas and points of view specific to languages from around the world are not mysterious and off-limits to people outside of the speaker group; they can be discovered, identified, and most importantly, understood.