Sapir–Whorf hypothesis

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Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.

The Sapir–Whorf hypothesis suggests that the structure of a language influences its speakers' worldview or cognition, and thus individuals' languages determine or shape their perceptions of the world. The strong form of the hypothesis (also known as linguistic determinism), which is discredited in modern linguistics, claims that language determines and limits thought. The weak form, which is better supported, claims that language influences perception but does not obstruct it.

Influence on Toki Pona[edit | edit source]

Many articles written about Toki Pona claim that Toki Pona is inspired by the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.[1] This likely refers to the language's original philosophy, which, as described in Toki Pona: The Language of Good, claims that training oneself to think in Toki Pona can have positive effects on cognition and perceiving the central nature of things.[2] However, jan Sonja has denied crediting the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis as an inspiration for the language.[3]

The Sapir–Whorf hypothesis is also the basis of Newspeak, a fictional language and control tool in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, which Toki Pona is often unfavorably compared to.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Tomaszewski, Zach. (11 December 2012). "A Formal Grammar for Toki Pona". University of Hawaiʻi System. Retrieved 13 March 2024. "Toki pona… is inspired by Taoism and the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.".
  2. Lang, Sonja. (25 May 2014). Toki Pona: The Language of Good. Tawhid. ISBN 978-0978292300. OCLC 921253340. pp. 10, 12, back cover.
  3. jan Deni [@daenyth]. (13 March 2024). [Message posted in the #general-otter channel in the kama sona Discord server]. Discord. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
    jan Deni

    @sonjalang In many places I see the claim repeated that you were influenced by the sapir-whorf hypothesis when designing toki pona and I'm wondering if that's true? I tried digging into it before and the earliest mention I see about sapir whorf is an article written about toki pona by someone not in the community and they just flatly claimed you were influenced, without any source

    jan Sonja

    i dont think i ever said anything about SWH

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