Norma Vance told me, during a chat at the Jan. 2000 Oakland work party, that Languages of Pao had drawn by far the most attention of any of Jack's stories. Plenty of it within SF circles, but the main point was that it had garnered much attention in linguistic and other academic circles.

At the time the book was written, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis was strong in those mileaux, as were General Semantics and the like, as Matt has said.