In more subtle matters we all, unknowingly, project the linguistic relationships of a particular language upon the universe, and see them there. . . . We say ‘see that wave’—the same pattern as ‘see that house.’ But without the projection of language no one ever saw a single wave. We see a surface in ever-changing undulating motion. Some languages cannot say ‘a wave’; they are closer to reality in this respect. Hopi say walalata, ‘plural waving occurs,’ and can call attention to one place in the waving just as we can. But, since actually a wave cannot exist by itself, the form that corresponds to our singular, wala, is not the equivalent of English ‘a wave,’ but means ‘a slosh occurs,’ as when a vessel of liquid is suddenly jarred.
--Benjamin Lee Whorf, Language, Thought, and Reality