Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 231
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Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.
 

Page 231
 
differentiated in all respects, the reason is simply that the former are relatively recent arrivals in southern Africa. The two peoples developed in complete isolation from each other; their present propinquity is too recent for the slow process of cultural and racial assimilation to have set in very powerfully. As we go back in time, we shall have to assume that relatively scanty populations occupied large territories for untold generations and that contact with other masses of population was not as insistent and prolonged as it later became. The geographical and historical isolation that brought about race differentiations was naturally favorable also to far-reaching variations in language and culture. The very fact that races and cultures which are brought into historical contact tend to assimilate in the long run, while neighboring languages assimilate each other only casually and in superficial respects, 15 indicates that there is no profound causal relation between the development of language and the specific development of race and of culture.
  But surely, the wary reader will object, there must be some relation between language and culture, and between language and at least that intangible aspect of race that we call “temperament.” Is it not inconceivable that the particular collective qualities of mind that have fashioned a culture are not precisely the same as were responsible for the growth of a particular linguistic morphology? This question takes us into the heart of the most difficult problems of social psychology. It is doubtful if any one has yet attained to sufficient clarity on the nature of the historical process and on the ultimate psychological factors involved in linguistic and cultural
Note 15.  The supersession of one language by another is of course not truly a matter of linguistic assimilation. [back]

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