A while back I mentioned Pinker's 'Blank Slate' in response to one of Chris Locke's missives, and Stavros offered to explain the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. He did so today, in great detail, along with fascinating commentary on Korean grammar and society, and how different forms of words are used depending on who one is talking to. I still think Sapir-Whorf is a load of tosh, but this seems to be a consensus now (unless Simon, Dorothea and Akma want to wade in).
I would agree is that previously heard or read language shapes subsequent utterances. Philip Hensher talks of the long linguistic shadow cast by the King James Bible.
Coincidentally, today I was called upon to interpret a conversation between 'John' and 'Thrash', a member of the popular beat combo 'The Orb' for the benefit of the Pho list:
hear me now.
wot is yous banging on about?
Excuse me old chap, I don't quite follow your drift.
judge me wiv me bits not me mula.
Consider what I have to say, not my worldly goods.
got speed garage in da house. it's the most bestest, innit?
I am listening to an uptempo musical style that was popular 5 years
ago, and enjoying it.
i fink i will be going westside to go to me julie.
so gimme a shout next time yous is going down to the boozer.
I may be visiting the expensive part of London, so let me know if you
fancy a potation.
Big it up!
Ease in the manor respec
Look mate check it I is fer real bwoyyy
Quieten down - I speak sooth.
Ali g is a pussy bwoy
Alistair is fey and effete.
And if the staines massive come darn tooting boy
Dey get dare nose bus up
If his chums visit my demesnes they'll get a jolly good hiding.
Believe boy I invented the bowl
When I was about 15 man
Yeah right I used to drive 80 mph the wrong way up charring cross road
Old bill giving it large behind
We just didn?t give a monkeys flying whatever you know
The constabulary never apprehended me for my carefree youthful
Speed garage ?? that for ninny boyz
Arvo parte much better innit
My musical compositions have more subtlety than up-tempo industrial.
It was behind these bins that me first bang me julie
It does not do to bandy about a ladies name.
As fer wot I is banging about
You better read it again innit
The subtler shades of meaning in my prose may require further perusal
for enlightenment to dawn.