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Keep a mental or a written note of the references people make to language use. Particularly record any comments people make that are regretful or angry about changing language use. Do you agree with the sentiments expressed? If so, why? If not, why not? 3 What is language? Having discussed what you can expect from this book, let’s take a closer look at some of the main themes and ideas we’ll be dealing with. The first of these 5 SHÂN WAREING is what language actually is. There are several different ways of thinking about language; which way you think about it depends on which aspect of language you are interested in.

Finally, Cohn identified a significant use of religious terminology. The first atomic bomb test was named the Trinity, and famously, Oppenheimer (the lead scientist on the project) thought of the Hindu avatar Krishna’s words on a battlefield in the Bhagavad Gita: ‘I am become death, destroyer of worlds’. : 5). Overall, Cohn believes that the ‘angle of telling’ embodied in such modes of representation makes it easier to ignore the human cost of nuclear war. It is weapons, not people, that are seen as vulnerable, which have to survive, and which can get killed, sometimes through fratricide (the destruction of one warhead by another from the ‘same side’).

Scientific American (Minkel 2002: 2) cites another example of an experiment designed to test linguistic determinism. Lera Boroditsky of MIT, in one 26 LANGUAGE, THOUGHT AND REPRESENTATION study, looked at whether the grammatical gender assigned to nouns in languages such as French and German influenced the perceptions speakers had of the objects’ attributes. She asked bilingual German–English, and Spanish– English respondents to describe, in English, items that were grammatically gendered as masculine or feminine in their other native tongue.

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Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch by J. DE VRIES.

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