Theargument made by Eric Lenneberg against the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is that“linguistic and non-linguistic events must be separately observed and describedbefore they can be correlated” (Carroll, 1956:28).He argues that there is no way to definelanguage as influencing thought when there is no distinction between these twoevents and that the evidence which supports language as influencing thought isbased purely on linguistic differences.
The tradition was taken up by the American linguist and anthropologist Edward Sapir (1884-1939) and his pupil Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897-1941), and resulted in a view about the relation between language and thought which was widely influential in the middle decades of this century....
Does Your Language Shape How You Think?
The use of racist language also illustrates the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. An old saying goes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” That may be true in theory but not in reality. Names can hurt, especially names that are racial slurs, which African Americans growing up before the era of the civil rights movement routinely heard. According to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, the use of these words would have affected how whites perceived African Americans. More generally, the use of racist terms may reinforce racial prejudice and racial stereotypes.