Perception in Relation to Language
Julianne Fritz, Carlos Herrera, Mo McDonald, Erick Ramirez
San Diego Mesa College
The influence of language over thought has been largely disputed over time. If language does have an effect over cognition, would polyglots be able to perceive a single idea through multiple lenses? And if so, does the lens of perception change every time one changes the language being spoken? The Spanish and English language greatly differ in the way nouns are conjugated in the everyday dialogue. In the Spanish language, all nouns have a gender while, in the English language, the same nouns would be gender-neutral when translated. Speakers of both languages were surveyed order to test whether Spanish speakers would describe an image using more gender-specific adjectives when asked in Spanish than English speakers would when asked to describe the same image in English. The results showed that slightly more English speakers described the images using the translation of gender-specific adjectives than Spanish speakers but not enough to carry any statistical significance. Although this study does not support our hypothesis, it provides a foundation of the understating of cognition in relation to language as well as a method of research that can be built on by eliminating confounding variables.
The idea that our thought is shaped by language is associated with the writing of Benjamin Lee Whorf (Boroditsky, Schmidt, Phillips, 2003). “The linguistic relativity (Whorfian) hypothesis states that language influences thought. In its strongest form, the hypothesis states that language controls both thought and perception” (Hunt, Agnoli 1991). Whorf was impressed by the diversi...
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...o Testing the Whorfian Hypothesis. Retrieved fromhttp://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=18&sid=f0d7818c-2edf-4384-a9d25abdbb6a6188%40sessionmgr4003&hid=4209&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=pdh&AN=1991-32731-001
Sera, M. D., Elieff, C., Forbes, J., Burch, M. C., Rodríguez, W., & Dubois, D. P. (2002).
When language affects cognition and when it does not: An analysis of grammatical gender and classification. Retrieved fromhttp://libraryaccess.sdmesa.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direc =true&db=pdh&AN=2002-15433-005&site=ehost-live
Chart showing average gender-based choices for both groups, bilingual Spanish speakers, and native English speakers.
Chart showing Spanish gender-based and English gender-based responses.
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