Skip navigation
Paperback | $34.00 Short | £23.95 | ISBN: 9780262730068 | 290 pp. | 5.3 x 7.9 in | March 1964

Instructor Resources

Language, Thought, and Reality

Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf


The pioneering linguist Benjamin Whorf (1897–1941) grasped the relationship between human language and human thinking: how language can shape our innermost thoughts. His basic thesis is that our perception of the world and our ways of thinking about it are deeply influenced by the structure of the languages we speak.

The writings collected in this volume include important papers on the Maya, Hopi, and Shawnee languages as well as more general reflections on language and meaning.

About the Author

Benjamin Lee Whorf, originally trained as a chemical engineer, began his work in linguistics in the 1920s and became well known for his studies of the Hopi language. He studied with the famous linguist Edward Sapir at Yale University, formulating with him the Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis of linguistic relativity.


"An essay showing why Hopi is superior to English as a scientific language, a criticism of Basic English as Complex English, and an account of the semantics of fire prevention are not only readable but delightful." —The New Yorker

"Benjamin Lee Whorf's scholarly contributions were substantial both in technical linguistics and in the broader area for which he is best known, the relation between language perception and thought."—Literature East and West

"The hypothesis suggested by Benjamin Lee Whorf that the structure of a person's language is a factor in the way in which he understands reality and behaves with respect to it has attracted the attention of linguists, anthropologists, psychologists, philosophers, as well as a large segment of the public." —Science

"With his edition of Language, Thought, and Reality, Professor Carroll has . . . performed an invaluable service for linguists everywhere. . . . A carefully planned and skillfully edited presentation of Whorf’s philosophy of language, to which has been added an interesting foreword by Stuart Chase, an invaluable essay by Carroll, and an extremely illuminating and useful bibliography."—International Journal of American Linguistics