|Humboldt, Wilhelm von (1767–1835)|
German linguist and philosopher, whose work foreshadowed linguistic and ethnolinguistic themes that became important in the 20th century. He argued that there exists a connection between language and culture, and that human beings to a great extent perceive the world through language. With his brother, the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, he revolutionized German science.
Wilhelm von Humboldt influenced the first German anthropologists profoundly, and through them, German - and American - anthropology. Indeed, a direct thread may be traced from Humboldt via Bastian, to Boas and thence to Benedict, the mother of the Culture-and-Personality school, and Sapir, the father of ethnolinguistics, and (with Whorf) the formulator of the "Sapir-Whorf hypothesis" that postulates a very tight bond between language and thought, and comes close to negating the possibility of translation between languages (and by extension cultures).