East European Journal of Psycholinguistics               ISSN 2313-2116 
Home » Journal papers » Volume 1, Number 1, 2014 » Matsuoka, Rieko

Does ‘Language’ Form Our ‘Thought’?
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Abstract. As early as 1799, Humboldt initiated to wonder the gravity of ‘language’. Indeed, there exists much diversity in linguistic forms in human societies and, translation is necessary in order to share literary works, among different language users. During the process of translating culturally-colored discourse, some important features of a given society may well be revealed. As an empirical example, a script of rakugo, which is the traditional Japanese performance art of telling comic stories, is used as the data for analysis because rakugo can be regarded as a genre of natural, spoken Japanese discourse. In fact, Katz (as cited in Wardy, 2006) suggests that linguistic relativity threatens universal inter-translatability. In this study, focusing on zero personal pronouns, the notion of linguistic relativity is examined, related to the Japanese sense of self and the Japanese worldview that includes seken (life-world). This seems to reveal linguistic relativity (e.g., Humboldt 1999; Sapir 1921/2004) that different perspectives on reality often manifest themselves as specific features of language use in speech communities, as some empirical studies have been conducted, starting with Humboldt’s original research (1999) on the Kawi language.

Keywords:  linguistic relativity, zero personal pronouns, low-context society, high-context society, seken (life-world), Japanese sense of self.



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