Sidnell, J., & Enfield, N. J. (2012). Language diversity and social action: A third locus of linguistic relativity. Current Anthropology,53, 302-333. doi:10.1086/665697.
The classic version of the linguistic relativity principle, formulated by Boas and developed especially in the work of Whorf, suggests that the particular lexicogrammatical patterns of a given language can influence the thought of its speakers. A second version of the argument emerged in the 1970s and shifted the focus to the indexical aspect of language: any given language includes a particular set of indexical signs, and these essentially shape the contexts produced in speaking that language. In this article, we propose a third locus of linguistic relativity. Our argument is based on recent work in conversation analysis that has shown how the resources of a given language provide the tools for accomplishing basic actions in interaction. To develop our argument, we consider the way in which the resources of three different languages (Caribbean English Creole, Finnish, and Lao) are deployed by speakers to agree with a prior assessment while at the same time claiming greater epistemic authority over the matter assessed. Our case study indicates that the language-specific tools used to accomplish this action (the lexicogrammatical resources) introduce collateral effects and in this way give the action a local spin or inflection.