SAPIR, EDWARD (1884–1939), U.S. ethnographer, anthropologist, and linguist. Born in Lauenburg, Germany, Sapir, the son of an Orthodox rabbi, was taken to the U.S. in 1889. He was educated in New York and in Germany. He studied with franz boas , and it was Boas' work in anthropological linguistics that stimulated Sapir to adopt this branch of anthropology as his major professional interest. For 15 years Sapir was chief of the Geological Survey of Canada, engaging in field research, and he became an expert in American-Indian languages. He taught at the universities of Toronto and Chicago, and in 1931 he was appointed professor of anthropology and linguistics at Yale University. He was fascinated by problems of language and its connections with logic, thought, and the total culture of which it was a part. He applied his early training in Indo-European comparative linguistics to the grammars of unwritten languages and their relationships. He concentrated increasingly on linguistics and its establishment as an academic discipline. It was his deep conviction that culture did not completely pattern its communicants, that diverse life experience produced different individuals within the same culture, and that therefore there are as many cultures. He produced some valuable ethnographic studies, among others on the Takelma and Nootka, and published such important essays in anthropological theory as Time Perspective in Aboriginal American Culture: A Study in Method (1916) and "Anthropology and Sociology" in: W.F. Ogburn and A. Goldenweiser (eds.), The Social Sciences and their Interrelations (1927), 97–113. The shadow of Nazism concerned him deeply, and he lent the weight of his academic prestige and personal involvement to various Jewish defensive efforts. But his primary scholarly achievement was in linguistics where, together with leonard bloomfield , he is to be regarded as a founder of formal descriptive linguistics based on a phonemic theory and distributional method that analyzes the sound and utterance, the morphemes of a language, following a pattern of their environmental distribution. Sapir established in his "Sound Patterns in Language" (Language, 1 (1925), 37–51) the principle of structural analysis as fundamental for both anthropology and linguistics. Sapir's work as a researcher, teacher, and theorist has exerted a permanent influence on the study of language and has stimulated new work in sociolinguistics, ethnolinguistics, psycholinguistics, semantics, and semiotics. Sapir did not hesitate to evaluate his own culture. In 1924 in his essay "Culture, Genuine and Spurious" (in: American Journal of Sociology, 29 (1924), 401–29) he expressed his profound discontent with contemporary culture. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: R. Benedict, in: American Anthropologist, 41 (1939), 465–77, incl. bibl. of his writings; International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (1968) s.v., incl. bibl. (Ephraim Fischoff)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Sapir, Edward — born Jan. 26, 1884, Lauenburg, Pomerania, Ger. died Feb. 4, 1939, New Haven, Conn., U.S. Polish born U.S. linguist and anthropologist. He was a founder of ethnolinguistics, which considers the relationship of culture to language, and a principal… …   Universalium

  • Sapir,Edward — Sa·pir (sə pîrʹ), Edward. 1884 1939. American linguist and anthropologist noted for his studies of Native American languages and his theories on the ways in which language shapes our perceptions. * * * …   Universalium

  • Sapir, Edward — (1884 1939)    American anthro pologist. Born in Lauenberg, Germany, he went to the US at the age of five. He studied at Columbia University and became chief of the Division of Anthropology in the Geological Survey of the Canadian National Museum …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Sapir, Edward — ► (1884 1939) Lingüista y antropólogo estadounidense. Fundador de la etnolingüística. Sus estudios en la Universidad de Colombia con Franz Boas le atrajeron al campo de la antropología lingüística. El lenguaje, obra publicada en 1921, es una… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • SAPIR (E.) — SAPIR EDWARD (1884 1939) Né en Allemagne, Edward Sapir vient très jeune aux États Unis où il fait d’abord des études d’allemand puis d’anthropologie et de linguistique (à New York puis à Columbia University). Sapir étudie alors les langues… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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  • Sapir–Whorf hypothesis — In linguistics, the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis (SWH) (also known as the linguistic relativity hypothesis ) postulates a systematic relationship between the grammatical categories of the language a person speaks and how that person both understands… …   Wikipedia

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  • Sapir-Whorf-These — Die Sapir Whorf Hypothese besagt, dass die Sprache das Denken formt. Sie ist eine unter mehreren Hypothesen, die sich mit dem Zusammenhang zwischen Sprache und Denken befassen. Dabei geht es um die Frage, wie sich eine bestimmte Sprache mit ihren …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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