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linguistic relativity

Definition of Linguistic Relativity

(noun) The hypothesis that people understand the world through the lens of their own language.

Linguistic Relativity Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: lin·guis·tic rel·a·tiv·i·ty

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /lɪŋˈgwɪstɪk ˌrɛləˈtɪvəti/
  • British English – /lɪŋˈgwɪstɪk ˌrɛləˈtɪvɪti/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: linguistic relativities
  • Linguistic relativity contends language is transferring cultural beliefs, norms, and values.
  • Also called:
    • linguistic relativity hypothesis
    • Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
    • Whorfian hypothesis

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Additional Information

Related Terms


Works Consulted

Macionis, John, and Kenneth Plummer. 2012. Sociology: A Global Introduction. 4th ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Ravelli, Bruce, and Michelle Webber. 2016. Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).

Cite the Definition of Linguistic Relativity

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “linguistic relativity.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved November 14, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/linguistic-relativity/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

linguistic relativity. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/linguistic-relativity/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “linguistic relativity.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/linguistic-relativity/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“linguistic relativity.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 14 Nov. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/linguistic-relativity/>.