Archive for the ‘Language and thought’ Category

Lupine Sapir-Whorf allusions

September 8, 2021

(That’s the adjective /lúpàjn/; the noun referring to a flower in the pea family is /lúpǝn/ — but this is not the Lupine Express.)

Francis Barlow’s illustration of the fable, 1687

Today’s morning name: the phrase the boy who cried Whorf. A paranomasic play — wolf vs. Whorf — on the boy who cried wolf, as in the Aesop fable, alluding to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis on the relationship between language and thought.

Oh, I thought on coming to full consciousness, surely someone has messed Whorfianly with the formulaic phrase.

And so they had; here I’ve just picked the first one that came up in googling: the heading The boy who cried Whorf, in Anthropology for Dummies by Cameron M. Smith, p. 48.

Then I tried some other formulaic expressions (again picking just one occurrence, the first one to come before my eyes):


Everyday logic

July 15, 2012

A Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal linked to by David Craig and Dan Everett on Facebook:

This could have been framed as a valid inference — but it isn’t here.



December 4, 2011

Reading Daniel Kahneman‘s Thinking, Fast and Slow (which I recommend), I was especially taken by Kahneman’s glimpses of his longtime collaboration with Amos Tversky. The book is dedicated to the memory of Tversky, who died in 1996, cruelly early, before he could share the Nobel Prize in Economics that Kahneman was awarded in 2002. (The brief bio of Kahneman in the book says, carefully, that he received the prize “for his pioneering work with Amos Tversky on decision making”.)


Night’s voices

July 30, 2010

From David Malki’s Wondermark (thanks to Bruce Webster), another entry for the Thoughts Without Words collection:

It’s all your own fault. The dark morning before the sun, indeed.

Maybe I’m unusually sensitive. My husband-equivalent Jacques went through a long period where he heard voices (and saw things, too) — sometimes voices saying comprehensible dreadful things, like that they were going to kill Elizabeth, but often just producing a buzz of undifferentiated menace. He was terrified, and so was I.

I realized at the time that the mechanisms that give rise to auditory and visual hallucinations are a topic of considerable scientific interest. But, still, the descent of night was not a happy time.