Spivak and Appiah

Appiah states that “if what language you speak determines what thoughts or intentions you have, translation … will always be impossible” (p. 334). Does our language influence our thoughts? For example, if two things are only described by one word in language A but given two separate words in language B, then can a speaker of language A fail to recognize or correctly distinguish between the two yet speaker of language B would think of them as distinct from each other? Essentially, does our vocabulary determine how we conceptualize and our world? If so, how does our thinking change throughout development and in learning multiple languages? Is ‘pure language’ then that which denotes an idea/thought/feeling that is shared among all humans, regardless of language?

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My name is Rachael Wachter and I am a sophomore neuroscience major. I am interested in translation studies because I want to learn how the brain and our behavior is affected by differences in language and culture.

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