Analyzing Guy Deutscher's You Are What You Speak

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Austin Mcgroarty Professor Davis English C102 Oct. 14, 2014 Guy Deutscher – You are what you Speak It is true that language has an impeccable imprint on one’s mind. However, the question is how far the extent of this influence is. In addition, linguistic experts are trying to unravel the extent of a language’s influence on an individual’s thinking process. “Does Your Language Shape How You Think” is an article by Guy Deutscher that was first published in the New York Time’s online forum. The article explores how languages influence the mode of thinking in their speakers. Deutscher begins his article by restating Benjamin Lee Whorf’s claims. Whorf was of the opinion that different languages created various realities for their speakers. Whorf’s…show more content…
Deutscher focuses on Whorf’s notion that “our mother tongue restricts what we are able to think” (Whorf 21). Deutscher who is an honorary research fellow at the University of Manchester revisits Whorf’s research and offers useful insights by providing current research on the subject. The article explores linguistic research from various standpoints including gender, time, color perception, and spatial perception. Deutscher’s paper points out the inconsistencies in Whorf’s claims and hypothesizes that language merely influences the mind but it does not shape it. According to Deutscher, our mother tongues impact the mind “not because of what our language allows us to think but rather because of what it habitually obliges us to think about” (Deutscher 1). Deutscher makes strong arguments to support his position and succeeds in disputing the theory and notion that our mother tongues are prisons that inhibit our ability to reason. This paper is an argument in support of some of…show more content…
Deutscher offers examples from different languages across the world when he is making his point to the readers. For instance, Deutscher uses the English, German, and French languages to illustrate differences in lingual conceptions. In one instance, Deutscher notes that both French and German languages pay extra attention to masculine and feminine qualities during a conversation. On the other hand, the English language does not pay much attention to gender based qualities during a conversation. The provision of hard evidence adds credibility to Deutscher’s arguments. Whorf, the main protagonist in Deutscher’s hypothesis failed to provide solid proof in his claims. Analyzing other languages reveals similar patterns. For example, the Spanish use the same gendered-noun patterns that are used by the Germans albeit in a different manner. The use of gendered nouns provides an insight into how a certain language might affect perception. For example, a certain person might consider a cup to be a masculine object while another person might consider it to be feminine depending on his/her language. Proponents of Deutscher’s theory argue that language is not the only factor that calls attention to certain features in a conversation. It has been argued that other factors such as “experience and vision can also cause a speaker to focus on certain features” during communication (Fodor 87). Nevertheless, the

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