Deutcher’s favorite evidence is people who sense direction not as a matter of front and back but as north, south, east and west. In their languages you say not “in front of me” but “west of me” and so on -- meaning that where if we were turned around after saying something was in front of us we’d say that it was now in back of us, speakers of these languages would still say that it was west of them.
Neat. But are these people’s languages making them sensitive to direction rather than position or is it, as almost anyone would intuit, that the culture focuses on direction and thus the language does? Americans have a plethora of terms referring to psychology complex, affect, syndrome, superego, compensation. Yet who would say that it’s the English language that makes us sensitive to these things? It sounds like something a Martian anthropologist might come up with, too eager for the exotic to perceive or settle for -- the more mundane truth.
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