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Language, Emotions, and Cultures: Emotional Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

By Leonid Perlovsky


An emotional version of Sapir-Whorf hypothesis suggests that differences in language emotionalities influence differences among cultures no less than conceptual differences. Conceptual contents of languages and cultures to significant extent are determined by words and their semantic differences; these could be borrowed among languages and exchanged among cultures. Emotional differences, as suggested in the paper, are related to grammar and mostly cannot be borrowed. Conceptual and emotional mechanisms of languages are considered here along with their functions in the mind and cultural evolution. A fundamental contradiction in human mind is considered: language evolution requires reduced emotionality, but "too low" emotionality makes language "irrelevant to life," disconnected from sensory-motor experience. Neural mechanisms of these processes are suggested as well as their mathematical models: the knowledge instinct, the language instinct, the dual model connecting language and cognition, dynamic logic, neural modeling fields. Mathematical results are related to cognitive science, linguistics, and psychology. Experimental evidence and theoretical arguments are discussed. Approximate equations for evolution of human minds and cultures are obtained. Their solutions identify three types of cultures: "conceptual"-pragmatic cultures, in which emotionality of language is reduced and differentiation overtakes synthesis resulting in fast evolution at the price of uncertainty of values, self doubts, and internal crises; "traditional-emotional" cultures where differentiation lags behind synthesis, resulting in cultural stability at the price of stagnation; and "multi-cultural" societies combining fast cultural evolution and stability. Unsolved problems and future theoretical and experimental directions are discussed.Comment: 16p, 2 fig

Topics: Computer Science - Artificial Intelligence
Year: 2011
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