Santa Fe Institute

Video: John McWhorter on 'The Language Hoax'

July 15, 2016 9 a.m.

The language we speak shapes how we experience life, creating a world view based on its vocabulary and grammar…right? Not so, says John McWhorter. 

During an SFI Community Lecture June 7 in Santa Fe, McWhorter draws on the scientific literature to show how this widely-held belief is not only false, it leads to dangerous assumptions about cultures and races that differ from our own – and he asserts that while cultures emphasize the ways human groups differ, languages suggest what we have in common.

Watch the video of McWhorter's talk (1 hour 21 minutes, June 7, 2016)

John McWhorter is an associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University. He is a regular columnist for Time magazine; a contributor to numerous newspapers, magazines, and television programs; and author of The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language.

Hear an interview with John McWhorter on the Santa Fe Radio Cafe (June 7, 2016)

Read a preview of the talk in Pasatiempo (June 3, 2016)

SFI’s 2016 Community Lecture series is made possible with generous underwriting from Thornburg Investment Management, with additional support from The Lensic Performing Arts Center

More SFI community events here.

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