Professor Wilkins asks - why are we shocked when the federal government, President Obama, and the U.S. military engages in activities or word choices that strike us as stupid, disrespectful, and juvenile? The answer to this question is in the Whorfian hypothesis. The Whorfian hypothesis, in its stronger form, suggests that the minute people lose their language, they start thinking and acting like speakers of the language they adopt. In other words, when we stop thinking in and using our native language, we Indians stop being Indian; we become American and identify with America. That is why we're shocked when the Feds or the US military makes infelicitous and disrespectful choices. We think our own country is hurting us, the country whose military we serve in, the country we give our lives for. The sorry truth is that such things hurt those of us who have stopped being Indian and have melted into the American mainstream. People like me who consciously refuse to be Americanized are not surprised - I expect worse, much worse, from the country that colonized us. Old Whorf must be smiling in his grave.
Thursday, June 9, 2011 - 01:57