Source of the picture:

Edward Sapir (1884-1939)


  • Preliminary stage of structuralism

Research Interests

  • Anthropology, American structural linguistics, ethnolinguistics

Notable Ideas



Edward Sapir was an anthropologist who worked with linguistics. He was born in Prussia (now Poland) to an orthodox Jewish family.
Sapir received both a B.A. (1904) and an M.A. (1905) in Germanic philology from Columbia University and received his Ph.D. in anthropology in 1909.
From 1925 to 1929 he was professor of linguistics and anthropology at the University of Chicago and from 1931 to 1939, he worked as a professor at Yale.

Contribution to Linguistics

His main goal in linguistics was to prove that language plays a major role in coining a culture. In his opinion, people are not only influenced by an individual's experience or by their surrounding society but they are mainly suppressed by their language.

Sapir became widely known for his contributions to the study of American Indian languages.

His best-known work is Language (1921).

Central Knowledge

  • Sapir was a leader in American structural linguistics and one of the creators of what is now called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
  • He was a founder of ethnolinguistics, which considers the relationship of culture and language, and a principal developer of the American (descriptive) school of structural linguistics.

Main Publications

  • Language. New York 1921.

  • Totality. New York 1930.

  • Language: an Introduction to the Study of Speech. New York 1949.

  • Language, Culture and Personality. Berkely 1960.

  • Ethnolinguistics. 1979.

Categories: People