If the world view and behavior of people are affected so severely by the structure of their language, and languages have different structures, then is cross-cultural communication and understanding a realistic goal for the modern world? Whorf would have us believe that such barrier-free communication is almost impossible. However, does that explain current world trade agreements, joint business ventures with foreign companies or the emphasis on raising bilingual societies? Sure, not every word of communication between people of different language communities is expressed. But despite that fact, I believe that the substance of the messages are getting across. Using the universal languages of law and science, people from all over the world are working together with no major barrier because of differing mother tongues.
Similarly, a personal experience in the confines of one language may actually physically be the same as one occurring in another language group, and although both people are fully aware cognitively of what is happening, their interpretation and value of what happened may be completely different based on the cultural guidelines set forth by their languages. This concept does not just apply to members of different cultures, but also to members of the same language community. Definitions of words are documented in dictionaries, yet an individual''s use and understanding of them are sometimes different that the use and understanding of his or her neighbor.
If the English language was somehow keeping us from freedom of thought, we would all be trapped in the same cognitive path if we were English speakers. Even among siblings, the understanding of certain words and what they mean varies. This is due to different environmental factors, personal interests, friends, teachers and perhaps an age difference. Two people who live in the same house, with the same genetic make-up and speak the same language should have the same cognitive processes if we were prisoners of our language. We are obviously not. Although I personally find Whorf''s hypothesis to be wanting in many areas, I believe that discussion about this topic is an important part of the globalization and cultural education in the world today. Through theories like this one, we can identify ways in which all languages are universal and how that universality in language is beneficial to us all. I think when all people realize that no matter which language you speak or which cultural norms you are used to, everyone is capable of intellectual thoughts, poetic visions, technical jargon and personal feelings according to their own experiences, the world will be a much smaller place.