Vygotsky's Theory: The Relationship Between Thought And Language

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The relationship between thought and language holds a diverse range of theories. Much of the background literature suggests that the connection between the two begins as early as infancy, with some research into the field of anthropology. Three key figures in its origins are Vygotsky, Piaget and Sapir-Whorf.
Vygotsky held a cultural, or ontogenetic, view on the origins of thought and language. In his view, language and thought held two separate roots that developed on a parallel which had crossed at a point. At the crucial cross point, two explanations surfaced: possibly curiosity, or the sudden increase in vocabulary. He believed that further cognitive development determines language and that this was ‘indisputable’. In essence, his theory
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It was believed that Russian speakers could more easily discriminate between colours of cross category, however this advantage was eliminated when a verbal distraction was employed. This shows that there is a language effect on the basic perception of colour discrimination, concluding that language affects cognition. Winawer actually hypothesised this in his study and his findings supported this. Kay and Kempton (1984) added supported findings to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in their similar study of colour words. They also found a within category significance, however their participants were Tarahumara speakers, showing that the original findings are not only apparent to the Russian language. Furthermore, once again, English speakers did not show this …show more content…
Their findings contrasted that of Whorf and suggested that the effect of colour memory, if any, is weak. Wright used an increased sample size compared to previous studies, but tested participants less. Although this study used less trials, non-supporting findings could means that the results are not as generalisable as previously stated. Wright went on further to criticise name strategy, or as he called it, direct labelling theory. It is suggested that direct labelling theory would cause errors in trials of cross category stimuli to be less than within category as there are already memorised verbal labels. He noted that the act of labelling a colour through perception of its being the most different would invalidate the results of the task. To summarise, he concluded that there is a weak Whorfian effect on lower level cognitive functioning, however if there is an effect, it would also be apparent in higher level cognitive functions. He suggests tests on memory storage as future

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