Language is an incredibly valuable communication method, as it enables knowledge, understanding, and many forms of meaning to be conveyed, and provides the ability to gain a sense of self and of others (Vaughan & Hogg, 2014). Further, the idea that language may influence, or even control thought and cognition has been extensively debated amongst social psychologist and linguists for decades. These debates have produced many diverse theories and concepts. However, with countless diverse hypotheses defining this subject selecting the most accurate and suitable theory has become problematic. Some social psychologists believe that language controls all thought and that the structural differences among languages enable speakers to experience, and think about the world differently; some believe in a universal grammatical system, some believe that language undermines thought, while others believe that language controls thought to a certain extent, facilitating easier communication (Chui, Krauss, & Lau, 1998; Hoffman, Lau, & Johnson, 1986; Lee, 1996; Vaughan, & Hogg, 2014). This essay will investigate the differing theories regarding languages influence on cognition and thought, and thus, will argue that the linguistic relativity theory best defines languages influence over thought and cognition.
Communication generates social interaction through the use of gestures, facial expressions, touch, and words (Vaughan, & Hogg, 2014). It enables the exchange of knowledge, opinions, beliefs, emotions, and unconscious thoughts and emotions (Eifring, & Theil, 2005). Language is a form of communication, and is defined as a system of sounds conveying meaning (Eifring, & Theil, 2005; Vaughan, & Hog...
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...luence over thought and cognition is Chomsky’s linguistic universalism (Chiu et al., 1998). Chomsky (Chiu et al., 1998) argued that every human mind has the same universal computational system, or a universal grammar system, which understands and determines the relationships of linguistic expressions; essentially expressing that language conforms to thought, and that thought does not conform to language (Chiu et al., 1998). However, a researcher named Everett spent thirty years studying and detailing the customs and language of an indigenous Amazonian tribe called the Pirahã, concluding that the language of the Pirahã lack some typical grammatical systems which are universal to all languages, such as tenses, a numerical system, terms for colour, and most importantly recursion (Moffitt, 2009). This study displays an inadequacy in Chomsky’s linguistic universalism.
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