Thursday, July 16, 2009

Language shaping thought

"Junto a ti cuando tomas decisiones importantes....Wells Fargo, junto llegaremos."

So read the Wells Fargo billboard, in Spanish,
as that I thought about the Spanish..
in English.

I think!

Just about every word and grammatical construct betrays the company's intent, and the linits and liminality of the language.

"Junto a ti cuando tomas decisones importantes"="Together with you as you make important decisions"":

But "junto a" connotes "together at,"more than "together.with/alongside."
The "you" is the informal "tu," a choice we do not have in English

"junto lleagaremos"= "together, we will arrive."

That is a straight-up future tense, rarely used in Spanish.

Almost everything in that one-liner forces me to think en espanol, not just linguistically, but culturally.

Thanks to my college anthropology professor, James Wenger, (PhD in linguisitics, read his church planting article here), I have long been a believer in in a version of the Sapir-Whorf Hyopthesis, stated (overstated) boldly as "Grammar is the cement out of which we fashion reality."

Discounted by many, the work of Whorf is back on the front lines due to new research. It is good to have Sharon Begley, science editor of the (excellent) new Newsweek, fill us in below.
Someone translate this article into Spanish(:

"What’s in a Word? Language may shape our thoughts"


1 comment:

  1. try comparing spoken language with sign language! To put the English 'go out of the door' into British Sign Language properly, you need to know whether the door is a single or double door, if it is automatic, or if not which side of the door the hinges are on and which way it opens.
    Similarly 'open the window' - how high up is the window, what shape is it, how does it open?


Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!