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Abstract

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis that the structure of a language influences cognitive behavior is questioned in this study of comparability of experience in different sense modalities. Do the Navajo, like ourselves, see HAPPY as more up and SAD as more down? Do the Japanese, like ourselves, conceive of EXCITEMENT as colorful and CALM as colorless? Do the Navajos and Anglos differ widely in their connotative meanings of the words “blue” and its correlate in Navajo, yet agree closely on their meanings for a specific BLUE color chip? Here is a first attempt to demonstrate that the visualverbal synesthetic relationships characteristic of our own language/culture community are shared by peoples who speak different languages and enjoy different cultures. Perhaps there is a “world view” that is relatively stable despite differences in both language and culture.