This article explains Benjamin Whorf’s theory of language and the controversies surrounding it. It also gives some interesting examples that support Whorf’s position based on new research about geography and space. Whorf announced Native American languages impose on their speakers a picture of reality that is totally different from ours, so their speakers would simply not be able to understand some of our most basic concepts, like the flow of time or the distinction between objects (like “stone”) and actions (like “fall”). For decades, Whorf’s theory dazzled both academics and the general public alike. In his shadow, others made a whole range of imaginative claimsRead More →

As civilized human beings, we are the inheritors . . . of a conversation, begun in the primeval forests and extended and made more articulate in the course of centuries. It is a conversation which goes on both in public and within each of ourselves. ~Michael James OakeshottRead More →

William Deresiewicz discusses the changes in what friendship means from classical times, through modernity, to the present. He argues that the meaning of friendship has changed from a relationship to a feeling, which he thinks is an erosion. Do you agree?Read More →

Linguists have recently reconstructed what a 6,000 year-old-language called Proto-Indo-European might have sounded like. This language was the forerunner of many European and Asian languages, and now you can listen to what it may have sounded like.Read More →