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Edward Sapir

Today, we have one of the most popular linguists “Edward Sapir”. He was an American anthropologist-linguist, who is broadly considered to be one of the prominent figures in the development of the discipline of linguistics in the US.

He was born in German Pomerania. His family travelled to the United States of America when he was a child. He studied Germanic linguistics at Columbia, where he came under the influence of Franz Boas, who inspired him to work on Native American languages. During finishing his Ph.D. he went to California to work with Alfred Kroeber to document the indigenous languages there.

By using his linguistic background, Sapir became the one student of Boas (who was known as the father of American Anthropology) to develop most completely the relationship between linguistics and anthropology. Sapir studied the methods in which language and culture impact each other, and he was interested in the relation between linguistic differences, and differences in cultural world views.

Among his major contributions to linguistics is his classification of Indigenous languages of the Americas, upon which he particularized for most of his professional life. He played an important role in progressing the modern concept of the phoneme, greatly advancing the understanding of phonology.

Moreover, this famous linguist Sapir is most known, however, for a concept known as linguistic relativity that is developed with his student, Benjamin Whorf. This assumption, in its strongest form, claims that the language one speaks significantly influences the way in which one recognizes the world. This hypothesis has been largely dismissed by modern linguists but caused important discussion and consideration about the link between language and culture.

After reading about this amazing linguist, do you think that his contributions were effective? Share your valuable opinion and let us know what you think J

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