Foreign languages have changed my perspective on the world. Or was it the use of foreign languages in foreign lands that changed me? I think it was the latter. Japanese, being outside my Indo-European Language Family, really stretched my mind and gave me new ways to organize thoughts. But I never felt handicapped with being able to say what I wanted to say in any language.
“Language Relativism” is a belief that languages, by the nature of their very structure, embody a worldview and cause a fluent speaker of the language to carve up their world differently from speakers of other languages, especially if the other speakers are from languages of another language family.
“Language Relativism” is highly controversial. As perhaps you can tell, I fall on the “trivially true” side of the spectrum on this issue along with Steven Pinker and others. But very bright people disagree with us.
I am continually amazed at the parallels between linguistics and religious studies. Indeed, it was seeing how other religions were doing exactly what my religion was doing that opened my eyes to my own religion. Seeing that the functions of other religions differed only in trivial ways the the functions of my faith that caused me to start leaving Christianity. See my post: “Hinduism was my Downfall“.
I don’t view religions as being primarily about beliefs but about how these beliefs can be used by the body of believers to serve social and psychological functions shared by us all. But certain religious thoughts and practices can change a believer to be very differently from another believer too. So as for Religious Relativism, I think significant differences actually do exist. So I guess when it comes to Religious Relativism I am a bit more to the right on the above scale.
By the way, “Language Relativism” is also known as the Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis — more on that later.
Questions for readers: Do you see parallels here like I do? Where do you fall on the scales.