Diacronia 11, June 10, 2020, art. A160 (p. 1–20)

Popularizing linguistic relativity

Spiros A. Moschonas


Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, 1 Sofocleous Str., 10559 Athens, Greece


Received December 5, 2019
Accepted May 4, 2020
Published June 10, 2020

Key words

linguistic anthropology
history of language


This paper distinguishes three phases in the popularization of linguistic relativity: the phase initiated by Benjamin Lee Whorf himself; a second phase during which linguistic relativity was formulated and tested as a research hypothesis; and the current phase during which language-relativistic assumptions have penetrated the mass media. To diagnose the spread of relativistic assumptions, 560 articles in both English and Greek print and electronic media were considered. The articles were published over the period 2010–2019. They fall, roughly, into eighteen categories. Some of the articles report explicitly on linguistic relativity research, while others presuppose language-relativistic ideas in handling issues as disparate as the effectiveness of managerial discourse, the appropriateness of political correctness, or the possibility of communicating with aliens. The large number of article categories as well as the tacit assumption of linguistic relativity in a growing number of articles are indicators of how popular linguistic relativity has become in folk-linguistic discourse.


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    Text:Moschonas, S. A. (2020). Popularizing linguistic relativity, Diacronia 11 (June 10), A160 (1–20),
    BibTeX:@ARTICLE{a. moschonas2020,
     author = {Spiros A. Moschonas},
     title = {Popularizing linguistic relativity},
     journal = {Diacronia},
     ISSN = {2393-1140},
     year = {2020},
     month = {June},
     number = {11},
     eid = {A160},
     doi = {},
     pages = "(1–20)",
     url = {}


© 2020 The Authors. Publishing rights belong to the Journal. The article is freely accessible under the terms and conditions of the CC-BY Open Access licence.

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