Document Type : Original Article


Department of English, Faculty of Education, Koya University


There is an on-going argument about the impact of language on thought, i.e. either language shapes thought or thought shapes language.  There are numerous thinkers, philosophers, psychologists, anthropologists, and linguists have tried to find out the truth about which one has superiority over the other, to be supportive or against the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. This study is about the linguistic thought among Kurds and English from the perspective of Sapir-Whorf hypothesis which is also called ‘Linguistic relativity’. It is named that because the linguists Edward Sapir and his student Benjamin Whorf are the first one whom they did make specific assumptions based on their research they conducted, that is why the theory named after them although they actually never formulated any concrete hypothesis. To get to know what it means that man thinks in language or that human thought is dependent on language, it can be assumed that the hypothesis is relatively true.  This paper aims at exploring the relationship between language and thought by giving a critical review on this hypothesis from two aspects of thought orientation and language orientation, by critical review it doesn’t mean to criticize the idea in a way to reject the theory but to enrich the subject and find out the problematic aspects of it. Since it is a hypothesis, it has advantages and disadvantages, because no one can prove that language shapes thought for sure, as the evidences are limited and it can’t be applied all the time. And aims to show how different cultures and religions affect English and Kurdish linguistic Thought by giving some examples of everyday life

      This research was conducted on the English and Kurdish examples to prove that in both languages, the formation of meanings is produced by the combination of language and thought to make sense of the concepts and how People think differently through having different mother languages, cultures and religions and clarifying it by giving examples in everyday life. Although these two languages are different at all the levels of language, in terms of structure and semantics but they are from the same family, what is interesting is that English is a western language and Kurdish is an eastern language. This article aims at investigating the application of the theory, i.e. to what extent in can be applied on them to come to an acceptable conclusion. At the end, we conclude that Kurdish language lays great stress on ‘surface structure’ of the words or denotations rather than connotations. Beside different mother languages, culture and religion have an influence on both Kurdish and English linguistic thought.


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