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does language shape the way we think ? Options
Romany
Posted: Wednesday, July 8, 2009 9:47:28 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 17,578
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Member,

Actually, I think that walking "down" the street must be a relatively modern construct. Certainly, if you read older English literature, people walk along or in streets. In fact, I certainly remember my mother questioning my use of "down" exactly as you have done. I have a feeling it was an American usage just as "down"town is? Certainly, as the Midlands - where a lot of our language was spawned - is uniformly (and boringly) flat, like the Fen country, I don't think geography would have had anything to do with it?

I love your mid-picture of a person staggering under a huge load! I also have one of those minds that supplies illustrations for words and phrases.
Ketardously
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 2:17:02 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/13/2009
Posts: 68
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Location: Sweden
A wonderful link and a wonderful topic!!!

Thank you!
early_apex
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 10:15:22 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/20/2009
Posts: 2,281
Neurons: 12,855
Location: Spindletop, Texas, United States
Romany wrote:
Member,

Actually, I think that walking "down" the street must be a relatively modern construct. Certainly, if you read older English literature, people walk along or in streets. In fact, I certainly remember my mother questioning my use of "down" exactly as you have done. I have a feeling it was an American usage just as "down"town is? Certainly, as the Midlands - where a lot of our language was spawned - is uniformly (and boringly) flat, like the Fen country, I don't think geography would have had anything to do with it?

My guess is that walking downhill is easier than uphill, and the term brings to mind a picture of gravitating toward the city center - downtown - where there is the most activity.

At the same time, I have lived in places that had an uptown as well as a downtown, and I never understood how these distinctions came to be, because the topographical change was slight.
Verby
Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 4:07:08 AM

Rank: Newbie

Joined: 7/21/2009
Posts: 7
Neurons: 2,641
My language comprehension has been greatly influenced by this forum. I will now only walk down the street when going up it, and I will change the gender of every object I meet. Furthermore, in the true spirit of rebellion, I shall remain neutral unless forced to do otherwise.
ameebolah
Posted: Thursday, July 23, 2009 3:51:44 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/16/2009
Posts: 52
Neurons: 162
Location: China
williamstdd wrote:
When I learned a bit of Mandarin while living in Taiwan, it taught me more than the language. Some little examples. They have a word for “respect for one’s parents” that when people talked about it they always said, “but it’s more than that.” The number eight is lucky since it sounds like father (ba), Father’s Day is August 8 (ba-ba) and is much bigger then Mother’s Day. Four is unlucky since is sounds likes death (si). Many buildings do not have a floor numbered four.
The lack of “he” and “she,” yet a proper wife was supposed to follow the husband by five steps (this may have been local to the Haka sub-culture I was around) and the lack of past and present tense. This gave me insight into how people at work spoke English.
So, I would say yes. However, I would also say the reverse—the way people think shapes the language. Chicken and egg problem.
Basically, nothing in Mandarin and English are the same. The exception is mother and father, Ma and Ba (kind of a b-p sound), respectively. I really think these are similar solely due to the ability of an infant to make these noises as their first recognizable word as they look at their parents. Nothing is more common between cultures than the sounds of a baby. I think most cultures want their babies to recognize their parents… “He said Mom!” This is the easiest case of thought shaping the language.
TCW


I have observed the opposite in regard to the celebration of Mother's and Father's day. But yes, 8 is lucky, but 4 is terribly unlucky. When I went to get a mobile phone, I was given the option of choosing my own phone number. For a fee, one could pay to not have any 4s in their phone number. Fascinating.
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