If the linguist in Arrival spoke Pittsburghese

I never ever thought I’d hear anyone say “Sapir-Whorf hypothesis” in a movie, but I heard it in Arrival! Ok, it was a science fiction film. See trailer here. Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is asked to help the United States communicate with aliens, and she’s the one who talks about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

I liked the movie, but something inside me made me wonder how it would have been different if Professor Banks had been fluent in Pittsburghese. See yinz.

What do yinz want?

Tayasui Sketches, iPad Pro, Apple Pencil

Propiopasta and Culture

I’d much rather maintain a collectivist, communitarian perspective; but, when it comes to defining culture – and, don’t worry, we’ll get to pasta soon enough – I’ve always liked how Ward Goodenough distinguished between private culture and culture in general, Cf. Cooperation in Change (1963:260). In Culture, Language, and Society (1971:31, 1981:98), Goodenough subsequently coined the term propriospect to shed additional light on this important distinction in perspective. Let’s look at culture in general first and then propriospect (Goodenough 1981:98) … and then PASTA:

Culture consists of
standards for deciding what is,
standards for deciding what can be,
standards for deciding how one feels about it,
standards for deciding what to do about it, and
standards for deciding how to go about doing it
.

Propriospect [An individual’s private, subjective view of the world and of its contents – his or her “personal outlook.” Note: Goodenough considered using the Greek derivative, idiorama, but ultimately went with the Latinate, propriospect. See? We’re closing in on pasta!]
Included in a person’s propriospect and indeed, dominating its content are the various standards for perceiving, evaluating, believing, and doing that he attributes to other persons as a result of his experience of their actions and admonitions.

Simply put, propriospect is to culture as ideolect is to language.

I think it’s very helpful to look at culture(s) from both of these COGNITIVELY-ORIENTED perspectives simultaneously and in all cases. Otherwise, we might easily get carried away by overlooking Goodenough’s distinction and embracing only one perspective to the detriment of the other. For example, in pasta making…

propriopasta