Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis (Scientific Ideas) a popular theory about the relationship between thought and language

Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis is a term in Psycholinguistics that commonly means "a popular theory about the relationship between thought and language." This term belongs mainly to the broader category called Scientific Ideas.

Definition of Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis

Source: A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics

1 "Sapir–Whorf hypothesis"

A theory of the relationship between language and thought expounded in its most explicit form by the American anthropological linguists Edward Sapir (1884–1939) and Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897– 1941). Also known as the theory of linguistic relativity, the hypothesis states (in the words of Whorf) that ‘we dissect nature along lines laid down by our native languages . . . by the linguistic systems in our minds.’ The differences in world-view imposed by different languages have, however, proved extremely difficult to elucidate or test experimentally, and the fact of successful bilingual translation weakens the force of the theory’s claims; as a result, the Sapir– Whorf hypothesis has made little impact on contemporary psycholinguistics, though the 1990s saw a renewed interest from cognitive psycholinguists and others.

Crystal, DLP, 422. [View as image] [Read on OMNIKA]

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Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis on page 422 of A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics
Definition of 'Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis'



PsychLing Contributors. "Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis." PsychLing, OMNIKA Foundation, 5 Aug. 2023, Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.


PsychLing (2023, August 5). Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis. Retrieved from

CMS 16

PsychLing Contributors. "Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis." Las Vegas, NV: OMNIKA Foundation. Created August 5, 2023. Modified September 16, 2023. Accessed February 26, 2024.


APA Dictionary

APA Contributors. "APA Dictionary of Psychology." Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Accessed September 14, 2023. [Visit]


Crystal, David, ed. A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. 6ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2011.


Internet Archive Contributors. "Wayback Machine." San Francisco, CA: Internet Archive. Created October 24, 2001. Accessed July 21, 2023. [Visit]

AA 86(1)

Kay, Paul, and Willett Kempton. "What is the Sapir‐Whorf Hypothesis?." American Anthropologist 86, no. 1 (March 1984): 65–79.

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Psycholinguistics is a field of study that concerns the scientific study of the relationship between human behavior and language.

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