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Benjamin Lee Whorf, (1897-1941)

Born in Winthrop, Massachusetts the son of Harry and Sarah (Lee) Whorf, Benjamin Lee Whorf graduated from the Massachusetts Intitute of Technology (M.I.T.) in 1918 with a degree in [Chemical Engineering]? and shortly afterwards began work as a fire prevention engineer (inspector) for the Hartford Fire Insurance Company, pursuing linguistic studies as an avocation. Although he met, and later studied with Edward Sapir (1884-1939), he never took up linguistics as a profession, though his contribution to the field was profound.

Whorf's primary area of interest in linguistics was the study of native American and Meso-American languages. He became quite well known for his work on the Hopi? language, and developed a theory of linguistic relativity in conjunction with Sapir that became known as the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. He was considered to be a captivating speaker and did much to popularize his linguistic ideas through popular lectures and articles written to be accessible to lay readers, as well as publishing numerous technical articles.

Benjamin Lee Whorf died of illness at the relatively young age of 44.

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