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  • How is the world different in another language?

How is the world different in another language?

Continuing WVU's celebration of the arts and humanities, this issue of THE QUESTION features WVU's Department of World Languages, Literatures & Linguistics.  Daniel Ferreras Savoye, Lisa DiBartolomeo, and Pablo Loaeza Garcia, who are faculty members in the department, begin a discussion of a question long pondered by linguists, philosophers, cognitive scientists, psychologists, anthropologists, and everyday people trying to communicate: How is the world different in another language?  Other interesting questions immediately arise.  How does language shape our understanding of the world?  Is the world really different in another language, or is the world exactly the same no matter the language and different languages just provide alternative ways of usefully organizing and understanding reality? How does our language influence how we experience the world? How does a language reflect beliefs and cultural practices? What can we understand about other people by understanding their language?  If a language lacks a precise way to express an idea or concept, does that mean that users of that language are prevented from adequately understanding that idea or concept? What kind of trouble can we get into by using, but failing to adequately understand, another language?

Please scroll down to the bottom of the page and participate in this conversation.  Do you have a good example or experience to share?  I am including links to a few interesting essays. Please suggest additional sources for further investigation.  THE QUESTION promotes a vibrant intellectual culture of learning, exploration, and inquiry.  

Students, please consider sharing your ideas by submitting an essay or video to our Big Ideas Contest.  The author/creator of the best idea wins an iPad!  For details, go to the navigation bar and click on Big Ideas Contest.