which came first?

how we think or how we speak?

from boingboing:

“In English, we use ‘I am’ statements to describe our current biological state, things that are happening to us, or events that we are experiencing. We say, ‘I am hungry.’ We say, ‘I am dying.’

“But that’s not how it works in Irish. Yesterday, during a panel called There’s Perception, and Then There’s Reality, Irish storyteller Clare Murphy talked briefly about how the language you speak alters the way that you perceive the world. The Irish equivalents of ‘I am hungry’ and ‘I am dying’, for example, would literally translate into English as, ‘Hunger is upon me’ and ‘Death is beside me.'”

“how the language you speak alters the way that you perceive the world.” ooooooooooooorrrr, maybe the way a people perceives the world (i.e. how their braiiiiiiinz work) affects the sort-of language they come up with?

i mean, after all, where does language come from? unless you adopt someone else’s language (like how almost everyone in central and south america now speaks a language they got from the spanish … who got their language from the romans), doesn’t language come from your brain? languages (to paraphrase jared taylor) don’t just drop down out of the sky … they come from different peoples. and maybe different languages are different because different peoples are different.

from newsweek:

“[W]hile English says ‘she broke the bowl’ even if it smashed accidentally (she dropped something on it, say), Spanish and Japanese describe the same event more like ‘the bowl broke itself.’ ‘When we show people video of the same event,’ says Boroditsky [language researcher @standford], ‘English speakers remember who was to blame even in an accident, but Spanish and Japanese speakers remember it less well than they do intentional actions. It raises questions about whether language affects even something as basic as how we construct our ideas of causality.'”

or maybe it raises the question: are the spanish and japanese more fatalistic than the english?

also from that newsweek article:

“Language even shapes what we see. People have a better memory for colors if different shades have distinct names—not English’s light blue and dark blue, for instance, but Russian’s goluboy and sinly. Skeptics of the language-shapes-thought claim have argued that that’s a trivial finding, showing only that people remember what they saw in both a visual form and a verbal one, but not proving that they actually see the hues differently. In an ingenious experiment, however, Boroditsky and colleagues showed volunteers three color swatches and asked them which of the bottom two was the same as the top one. Native Russian speakers were faster than English speakers when the colors had distinct names, suggesting that having a name for something allows you to perceive it more sharply.”

what i’d like to know is, were all the native russian speakers actually russian|slavic (as opposed to say some indigenous siberian groups or something)? ’cause perhaps slavs actually see blues differently|better than other peoples, and that is just reflected in their language. there is, after all, some evidence for physical differences in color perception in some humans. (not to mention color blindness.)

i’m sure language prolly affects how we think. it seems likely. but i also think it seems likely that how we think (differently) must affect our languages.

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linkfest – 02/27/11

Taming the Wild @national geographic – via steve sailer.

Did Neanderthals use feathers for fashion?

Monkeys ‘display self-doubt’ like humans

Why did French fertility collapse in the 1800s? from hail.

Life of crime begins at three for some children, scientists claim after disturbing traits identified

Ethnic Differences Emerge in Plastic Surgery

Yes, your blood group DOES affect your health

German outpost in Brazil – from jewamongyou.

Promiscuous apes make more sperm

Evolutionary accounts of human behavioural diversity – via occidentalist.

Ice-age child’s remains discovered in Interior – of alaska

Phonology recapitulates phylogeny – from ahnenkult

The Machiavellianism of Our Chimpanzee Politics – from larry arnhart

Conservative Candidates Are Often Better-Looking – via diversity is chaos

Looks matter most to young girls, even in a long-term partner – from agnostic

Craniometric study: Neolithic migrants did not penetrate Northern and Eastern Europe – from euro genetics and anthro blog

What does a 19th century Mormon and a fruit fly have in common? The more wives they have the fewer children the women produce, claim scientists