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Cultural Contact and Linguistic Relativity in Northwestern California

Cultural Contact and Linguistic Relativity Among the Indians of Nor...

Sean O’Neill

2008

University of Oklahoma Press

One of the most perplexing problems in the field of anthropology over the last hundred years has been the relationship between language and culture. Does language shape culture? Does culture shape language? Further, and perhaps more interesting, does language shape our cognition, effecting the very way that we see the world? Similarly, does culture shape our language in such a way that the very words, concepts, and semantic structures within a language are the direct result of the culture’s physical manifestation? These questions and many others have been the subject of debate within anthropology, linguistics, psychology, and other fields of inquiry for well over a century. Out of this interdisciplinary debate, however, one theory has been of particular interest to all parties – the theory of linguistic relativity.

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