Playing With / Language Equals Thought

Basic Trope: Changes in a culture's language will change how people that speak said language think, and thus act; a culture without words for violent acts will have no conception of violence.
  • Straight: Alice of the Peaceful Tribe comes from a society where there are no words for "murder." As a consequence of this, Alice's society never has a situation where any single human being deliberately kills any other human being.
  • Exaggerated: Beatrice the Blood Knight adopts the language of the Peaceful Tribe. As she starts to think in this language and lose her old language, she stops being a Blood Knight and starts becoming a Friend to All Living Things.
  • Downplayed: Alice of the Peaceful Tribe has the phrase "intentional death", but the society is such that murder does not happen regularly.
  • Justified: The people in this culture have a rare neuro-cognitive defect that prevents them from coming up with new concepts and attaching labels (i.e. words) to them; thus the only concepts they can use are ones which they have words for.
  • Inverted:
    • Changes in a culture's language are caused by changes in the underlying thought patterns of people that speak said language.
    • The Proud Warrior Race has no word for "war" because that's all they do.
  • Subverted:
    • The Peaceful Tribe only lack a word for "murder" because they are Manipulative Bastards that habitually use euphemisms; the concept of murder is still very much present and they're very good at hiding the bodies...
    • A violent culture lacks words for violence and ends up describing things in really awkward ways like "harvest red waters of not welcome person with pointy tool" for stabbing outsiders.
  • Double Subverted: ...however, lack of a word for murder eventually eradicated the murderous aspect of society.
  • Parodied:
    • After learning a programming language, Alice becomes a computer.
    • Alice's language has no word for gravity, so she can fly.
  • Zig Zagged: In Xville, there is no word for murder but murder happens all the time because they have no concept of murder. People assume that killing anyone they dislike is a basic right. There is, however, actually a word for not killing somebody. Meanwhile, the peaceful tribe Yville has no word for peace but has a word for murder. When a person from Xville learns the language of Yville, or vice-versa, nothing changes, because language follows culture. When Xville develops a word for murder, the citizens living there start to believe that murder is wrong, due to their understanding of its concept. Yville's culture still remains the same, even after its citizens learn the Xville's newly changed language.
  • Averted: Either language only has some influence on the underlying thought structure in some situations, or the inversion of this trope is true.
  • Enforced: The story was written for a "Lit Crit" class being held at Strawman U; where Language Equals Thought is all the rage amongst the faculty.
  • Lampshaded: "Of course they're peaceful," the Anthropologist announced, "they don't even have a word for 'kill.'"
  • Invoked: See Deconstructed.
  • Exploited: Claire, who is not from the Peaceful Tribe, commits genocide of Peaceful Tribe members, and they have no way of explaining it.
  • Defied: A council of aliens are looking over lower lifeforms. One proposes language manipulation and is shot down as an idiot by the others.
  • Discussed: 'We don't have wars, but we do have the word war, contrary to what you may think.'
  • Conversed: 'Hang on, they have no word for murder! Their books must be awkwardly written!'
  • Deconstructed:
    • Control of language becomes a social control mechanism used by ideological totalitarians to attain political power.
    • Alice's language doesn't have a word for "proportion," so everyone blows things out of proportion.
  • Reconstructed: The society where Language Equals Thought also has lots of very pejorative terms for "totalitarian", all of which are synonymous with evil, thus preventing a totalitarian power luster from emerging in the first place.

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