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Structure:

1. Write a memo briefly describing what the Internet of Things is. Then explain, how does this apply to Technology in home & personal use? The memo needs to be at LEAST two paragraphs — first paragraph discusses what IoT is, the second paragraph describes how IoT applies to Technology in home & personal use.

Read the article attached “Dose your language shape how you think?” and answer the question below in small paragraph.

2. As a Arabic speaker, are there any examples in your native language that are similar to any of the examples in the article? Do these differences affect your listening to and understanding American English?

Does Your Language Shape How You Think?
Seventy years ago, in 1940, a popular science magazine published a short article that set in
motion one of the trendiest intellectual fads of the 20th century. At first glance, there seemed
little about the article to augur its subsequent celebrity. Neither the
title, “Science and Linguistics,” nor the magazine, M.I.T.’s
Technology Review, was most people’s idea of glamour. And the
author, a chemical engineer who worked for an insurance company and
moonlighted as an anthropology lecturer at Yale University, was an
unlikely candidate for international superstardom. And yet Benjamin
Lee Whorf let loose an alluring idea about language’s power over the
mind, and his stirring prose seduced a whole generation into believing
that our mother tongue restricts what we are able to think.

This is the principle of linguistic relativity holding that the structure of
a language affects the ways in which its respective speakers
conceptualize their world, i.e. their world view, or otherwise influences
their cognitive processes. Popularly known as the Sapir–Whorf
hypothesis, the principle is often defined to include two versions. The
strong version says that language determines thought, and that
linguistic categories limit and determine cognitive categories, while the weak version says only
that linguistic categories and usage influence thought and certain kinds of non-linguistic
behavior.

Whorf provides the example of the Eskimo words for snow. The Eskimo people are inhabitants
of the Arctic. Whereas in the English language there is only one word for snow the Eskimo
language has many words for snow. Whorf argues that this language for snow allows the Eskimo
people to “see” snow differently than speakers of other languages who do not have as many
words for snow. That is, Eskimo people see subtle differences in snow that other people do not.
But contrary to popular belief, the Eskimos do not have more words for snow than do speakers of
English. They do not have four hundred words for snow, as it has been claimed in print, or two
hundred, or one hundred, or forty-eight, or even nine. One dictionary puts the figure at two.
Counting generously, experts can come up with about a dozen, but by such standards English
would not be far behind, with snow, sleet, slush, blizzard, avalanche, hail, hardpack, powder,
flurry, dusting.

But, Whorf insisted, Native American languages impose on their speakers a picture of reality that
is totally different from ours, so their speakers would simply not be able to understand some of
our most basic concepts, like the flow of time or the distinction between objects (like “stone”)
and actions (like “fall”). For decades, Whorf’s theory dazzled both academics and the general
public alike. In his shadow, others made a whole range of imaginative claims about the supposed
power of language, from the assertion that Native American languages instill in their speakers an
intuitive understanding of Einstein’s concept of time as a fourth dimension to the theory that the
nature of the Jewish religion was determined by the tense system of ancient Hebrew.

Eventually, Whorf’s theory crash-landed on hard
facts and solid common sense, when it transpired
that there had never actually been any evidence to
support his fantastic claims. The reaction was so
severe that for decades, any attempts to explore the
influence of the mother tongue on our thoughts were
relegated to the loony fringes of disrepute. But 70
years on, it is surely time to put the trauma of Whorf
behind us. And in the last few years, new research
has revealed that when we learn our mother tongue,
we do after all acquire certain habits of thought that

shape our experience in significant and often surprising ways.

Whorf, we now know, made many mistakes. The most serious one was to assume that our
mother tongue constrains our minds and prevents us from being able to think certain thoughts.
The general structure of his arguments was to claim that if a language has no word for a certain
concept, then its speakers would not be able to understand this concept. If a language has no
future tense, for instance, its speakers would simply not be able to grasp our notion of future
time. It seems barely comprehensible that this line of argument could ever have achieved such
success, given that so much contrary evidence confronts you wherever you look. When you ask,
in perfectly normal English, and in the present tense, “Are you coming tomorrow?” do you feel
your grip on the notion of futurity slipping away? Do English speakers who have never heard the
German word Schadenfreude find it difficult to understand the concept of relishing someone
else’s misfortune? Or think about it this way: If the inventory of ready-made words in your
language determined which concepts you were able to understand, how would you ever learn
anything new?

SINCE THERE IS NO EVIDENCE that any language forbids its speakers to think anything,
we must look in an entirely different direction to discover how our mother tongue really does
shape our experience of the world. Some 50 years ago, the renowned linguist Roman Jakobson
pointed out a crucial fact about differences between languages in a pithy maxim: “Languages
differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey.” This maxim offers
us the key to unlocking the real force of the mother tongue: if different languages influence our
minds in different ways, this is not because of what our language allows us to think but rather
because of what it habitually obliges us to think about.

Consider this example. Suppose I say to you in English that “I spent yesterday evening with a
neighbor.” You may well wonder whether my companion was male or female, but I have the
right to tell you politely that it’s none of your business. But if we were speaking French or
German, I wouldn’t have the privilege to equivocate in this way, because I would be obliged by
the grammar of language to choose between voisin or voisine; Nachbar or Nachbarin. These
languages compel me to inform you about the sex of my companion whether or not I feel it is
remotely your concern. This does not mean, of course, that English speakers are unable to
understand the differences between evenings spent with male or female neighbors, but it does
mean that they do not have to consider the sexes of neighbors, friends, teachers and a host of

other persons each time they come up in a conversation, whereas speakers of some languages are
obliged to do so.

On the other hand, English does oblige you to specify certain types of information that can be
left to the context in other languages. If I want to tell you in English about a dinner with my
neighbor, I may not have to mention the neighbor’s sex, but I do have to tell you something
about the timing of the event: I have to decide whether we dined, have been dining, are dining,
will be dining and so on. Chinese, on the other hand, does not oblige its speakers to specify the
exact time of the action in this way, because the same verb form can be used for past, present or
future actions. Again, this does not mean that the Chinese are unable to understand the concept
of time. But it does mean they are not obliged to think about timing whenever they describe an
action.

When your language routinely obliges you to specify certain types of information, it forces you
to be attentive to certain details in the world and to certain aspects of experience that speakers of
other languages may not be required to think about all the time. And since such habits of speech
are cultivated from the earliest age, it is only natural that they can settle into habits of mind that
go beyond language itself, affecting your experiences, perceptions, associations, feelings,
memories and orientation in the world.

IN WHAT OTHER WAYS might the language we speak influence our experience of the
world? Recently, it has been demonstrated in a series of ingenious experiments that we even
perceive colors through the lens of our mother tongue. There are radical variations in the way
languages carve up the spectrum of visible light; for example, green and blue are distinct colors
in English but are considered shades of the same color in many languages. And it turns out that
the colors that our language routinely obliges us to treat as distinct can refine our purely visual
sensitivity to certain color differences in reality, so that our brains are trained to exaggerate the
distance between shades of color if these have different names in our language. As strange as it
may sound, our experience of a Chagall painting actually depends to some extent on whether our
language has a word for blue.

In coming years, researchers may also be able to shed light on the impact of language on more
subtle areas of perception. For instance, some languages, like Matses in Peru, oblige their
speakers, like the finickiest of lawyers, to specify exactly how they came to know about the facts
they are reporting. You cannot simply say, as in English, “An animal passed here.” You have to
specify, using a different verbal form, whether this was directly experienced (you saw the animal
passing), inferred (you saw footprints), conjectured (animals generally pass there that time of
day), hearsay or such. If a statement is reported with the incorrect “evidentiality,” it is considered
a lie. So if, for instance, you ask a Matses man how many wives he has, unless he can actually
see his wives at that very moment, he would have to answer in the past tense and would say
something like “There were two last time I checked.” After all, given that the wives are not
present, he cannot be absolutely certain that one of them hasn’t died or run off with another man
since he last saw them, even if this was only five minutes ago. So he cannot report it as a certain
fact in the present tense. Does the need to think constantly about epistemology in such a careful
and sophisticated manner inform the speakers’ outlook on life or their sense of truth and

causation? When our experimental tools are less blunt, such questions will be amenable to
empirical study.

For many years, our mother tongue was claimed to be a “prison house” that constrained our
capacity to reason. Once it turned out that there was no evidence for such claims, this was taken
as proof that people of all cultures think in fundamentally the same way. But surely it is a
mistake to overestimate the importance of abstract reasoning in our lives. After all, how many
daily decisions do we make on the basis of deductive logic compared with those guided by gut
feeling, intuition, emotions, impulse or practical skills? The habits of mind that our culture has
instilled in us from infancy shape our orientation to the world and our emotional responses to the
objects we encounter, and their consequences probably go far beyond what has been
experimentally demonstrated so far; they may also have a marked impact on our beliefs, values
and ideologies. We may not know as yet how to measure these consequences directly or how to
assess their contribution to cultural or political misunderstandings. But as a first step toward
understanding one another, we can do better than pretending we all think the same.

(excerpted from Wikipedia , The University of Alberta, Steven Pinker and Guy Deutscher New
York Times “Does Your Language Shape How You Think?” August 26, 2010)

  • Does Your Language Shape How You Think?
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