Posted by: jrendleshort | August 4, 2009

Whorfian hypothesis

In the lecture today we talked about how the Whorfian hypothesis is at the basis of feminist ideas around language. Basically the idea is that if we use masculine language (e.g. It is important for man to explore space and to fly to the moon.), then women are excluded. The idea is that if language defines our view of the world and if women aren’t included in the language, then our society is one which women do not feel as included as they should or could be. Then the question was raised as to what happens with politically correct language and whether it is the same or whether it turns the argument on its head. Any ideas?



  1. Politically correct language versus female inclusive language is sort of the same argument (which probably has arguments on both sides) as the fine line between freedom of speech and insulting people!
    Some people believe that if we are to tip-toe around making people feel comfortable – we are bound to insult someone somewhere, regardless of what we say. However, if our intent is to actually use language that is out there to harm or insult, then our language should perhaps be looked at, and perhaps be toned down to something closer to “politically correct”. Or as the saying goes, if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all – or should you??

    I believe that language gives us the ability to be creative in any given situation, it is up to us to use it “wisely” – on the other hand should people be insulted if they hear something derogatory about them?

    “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”…

    How strong is language anyway in physically damaging a person’s internal being??

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