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Influences within languages of Time-Space metaphors on visual perception: A visio-spatial experiment testing the Whorfian Hypothesis among English and bilingual Greek-English speakers

Israr, Mohammed (2013) Influences within languages of Time-Space metaphors on visual perception: A visio-spatial experiment testing the Whorfian Hypothesis among English and bilingual Greek-English speakers. University of West London.

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Abstract

The idea that language might influence thought and also our perception is often referred to as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis or the Whorfian hypothesis (1940) of linguistic relativity which claims that language determines thought. However, a weaker version of the hypothesis is said to say that languages merely influences thought and does not determine it. In order to test this hypothesis participant were made to complete a visio-spatial task, a recreation of an existing experiment by Casasanto (2008), in order to see the perceptual effects of time-space metaphor relationships across languages. The hypothesis of this study was that the English speakers will be more accurate in the growing line task then the bilingual groups and the opposite will be found in the container filling task. N = 30, 10 Native English (Group 1) and 20 Bilingual English & Greek half given instructions in English (Group 2) and half in Greek (Group 3). Native English – 7 males and 3 females (Mean age ± SD; 26.6±6.11 years), Bilingual English – 6 males and 4 females (Mean age ± SD; 24.2±5.51), Bilingual Greek – 4 males and 6 females (Mean age ± SD; 26.2±5.77). All results were gathered via IBM Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 21. The analysis of results consisted of all participants across the 3 groups of 10; all participants were used in the data. A 2 x 3 mixed design experiment where the within subject factor was Growth & Time Judgment (Line vs. Container) and the between subject factor was language (Native English vs. Bilingual English-Greek, English Instructions vs. Bilingual English-Greek, Greek Instructions) was conducted to measure the results. The within-subjects effect for Instruction Language and Growth Judgment scores was significant, N= 30, F (2, 27) = 4.31, p <0.05*. Considerations of previous studies and findings of this study support the weak version of the Whorfian hypothesis. However, there is very little reason or evidence to accept the strong version as correct. Findings also suggest that, experience is an underlying factor influencing thought rather than language.

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