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What Is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis?
Whorf's deluded prisoner of language who defines event as anything which his language classifies as a verb is properly a caricature of the traditional grammarian who philosophizes on the basis of the formal features of his own language. Hence, Whorf's hypothesis is really just another attempt to discredit traditional linguistics. The irony of the situation is that Whorf himself (unlike Sapir) was unacquainted with traditional linguistics, and thus did not really know what he was talking about.
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The logical bridge to the Whorf hypothesis, I should like to claim, is then the notion that grammatical categories represent "experience seen in terms of a definite linguistic scheme, not experience that is the same for all observers" (Carroll, p. 92). Whorf, like Sapir, invents a type of experience with which the grammatical categories can be correlated, and proceeds to claim that the nature of these subjective experiences can be explained by their being correlated in this way. Just as Sapir suggested that speakers of English forget that a noun like height indicates a quality and not an object, Whorf claimed that to us an event means "what our language classes as a verb." In fact, Whorf took the argument one step further and denied that the native speaker can ever be reminded of the truth: "And it will be found that it is not possible [emphasis mine] to define 'event, thing, object, relationship,' and so on, from nature, but that to define them [emphasis mine] involves a circuitous return to the grammatical categories of the definer's language" (Carroll, p. 215).