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Language v. Thought

Discussion in 'General Debates' started by The Hammer, Jan 15, 2016.

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  1. Yes, Language influences how we think and perceive the world.

  2. No, Language does not influence how we think and perceive the world.

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  1. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
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    If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words are in a 1000 piece puzzle?
     
  2. Rick O'Shez

    Rick O'Shez Irishman bouncing off walls

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  3. The Hammer

    The Hammer Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis has been essentially proven false after it's initial surge in popularity. The fact that we can translate between most languages is proof of that.
     
  4. The Hammer

    The Hammer Well-Known Member

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    So a feeling is not a thought? Judgements cannot be made on feeling? Would the feral child "know" not to eat a certain kind of berry, would that not constitute a thought?
     
  5. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
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  6. DawudTalut

    DawudTalut Peace be upon you.

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    Peace be on you.
    ==There are things which need no language, like mother to baby and vice versa, like a hungry bird reminding you to feed it....etc.
    ==In which language we think?
    ==Will a person, who somehow grew in jungle, be able to think?
    ==Sometimes two people at different location think same at same time.


    A good article:
    ""For a long time, the idea that language might shape thought was considered at best untestable and more often simply wrong. Research in my labs at Stanford University and at MIT has helped reopen this question. We have collected data around the world: from China, Greece, Chile, Indonesia, Russia, and Aboriginal Australia. What we have learned is that...................""
    https://edge.org/conversation/lera_boroditsky-how-does-our-language-shape-the-way-we-think
     
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  7. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    not proven false, though the 'strong interpretation' did fall out of favor for a while. now linguists are reconsidering. See Boroditsky's article, linked from post #26.
     
    #27 Valjean, Jan 15, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016
  8. beenherebeforeagain

    beenherebeforeagain Rogue Animist
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    Good thread!
    I said yes, but your edited question is problematic: there's a difference between different languages influencing thought, and languages making people who speak different languages "think fundamentally different" than other people. I don't think there's much to support the latter proposition, as we're all human with fundamentally the same hardware, modified by culture through use. I think there's probably greater variability in how people think within a language than between languages.

    This stems from the different patterns/kinds of thinking: I for example am primarily a visual thinker; while I am proficient at English, and have a constant monologue/dialogue going on in my mind, I think in images and have to associate the words I've learned with the thoughts I have. To speak or write, I have to literally visualize the words I want to say/write/type to convey the thoughts in my mind. I understand that there are other kinds of thinking (verbal, mathematical, musical...)...I guess I might share some verbal thinking as well, but not so much mathematical or musical or etc. (it's a lot of work, and I still tend to visualize math and music, etc., rather than think in them directly).
     
  9. beenherebeforeagain

    beenherebeforeagain Rogue Animist
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    Wikipedia from Spiny's link. "Real picture thinkers", those persons who use visual thinking almost to the exclusion of other kinds of thinking, make up a smaller percentage of the population. Research by child development theorist Linda Kreger Silverman suggests that less than 30% of the population strongly uses visual/spatial thinking, another 45% uses both visual/spatial thinking and thinking in the form of words, and 25% thinks exclusively in words. According to Kreger Silverman, of the 30% of the general population who use visual/spatial thinking, only a small percentage would use this style over and above all other forms of thinking, and can be said to be 'true' "picture thinkers".[2]"

    I would say that I'm in that middle 45 percent. I've a very good friend who would claim to be almost entirely visual.
     
  10. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    Is our language our operating system?
     
  11. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
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    No.
    I would say our culture is our operating system.
    I can get windows and linux and most other OS in a multitude of languages.
     
  12. beenherebeforeagain

    beenherebeforeagain Rogue Animist
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    Not sure about this. Certainly, Helen Keller, the famous deaf-blind-mute person, described thinking very differently as a child, until Teacher managed to finally convey to her that there were symbols that could mean something, mean the experiences she had and thought in. From her description, she most definitely was a visual thinker--who had been robbed of the sensory inputs needed to create the associations of language.
     
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  13. Rick O'Shez

    Rick O'Shez Irishman bouncing off walls

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    I guess that's visual problem solving?
     
  14. The Hammer

    The Hammer Well-Known Member

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    I've read Boroditsky's article previously. I am honestly arguing from a default position, I can argue either way. It's why I only gave to options in the poll :). I wanted to constrain the lines of thinking down to narrow the subject.
     
  15. The Hammer

    The Hammer Well-Known Member

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    The language or languages that one speaks, has no influence over the thoughts and perceptions of that person and the world around them. A clear example of this is the medical phenomenon known as Aphasia. People who are affected with Aphasia have lost the ability to comprehend spoken language, communicate verbally, or both. But these individuals, while they cannot verbally express themselves, are still fully capable of complex thought, and rationalization; they merely do not have the words to express them. Another medical condition showing that language and thought are not related is Paraphasia and Neologistic Paraphasia, which is the substitution of one word for another, or the substitution of a gibberish word, respectively. These persons during speech will use noun words unrelated to what they are trying to express, such as saying "What time does your can say?", or "I rode to work on my ribbledoo," when they are talking about a clock or their bike. Even though they have expressed the wrong words within the language, the thought behind it is still just as clear.
     
  16. Fool

    Fool ALL in all
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    language is based on culture and culture is based on environment; so yes in some aspects. someone living in a desert environment, could probably not always related to someone living in a forest environment, a plains person would not necessarily know how to relate in some aspects to a person raised and living in a mountainous environment.
     
  17. aoji

    aoji Member

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    Depends on how you define "fundamentally." :D

    Yes. If you know a language that has more than one gender (masculine, neutral, feminine) then you will see (think) the world differently since you have to write and speak it.

    As a language is spoken, we detect "intent," and react accordingly. So, most words can be spoken either negatively, neutrally, or positively. The emotional content cannot be written down. And the reader can't know what was meant, instead they "colour" their interpretation, they assume what was meant.

    If you know two languages you may find that your mind automatically translates what is heard and what you think you are hearing. For example, Spanish is my native (born) language and English is my main (educated, read & write. spoken). I was at the beach and heard a song in English. There came a point where a word was said that my mind couldn't translate because it didn't know it. It then occurred to me that the song was in Spanish but I heard it in English.

    Were you one of the kids who was always corrected by your teacher for writing "thier" for "their"? "'I' before 'e' unless after 'c'" should have been taught as "'I' before 'e' unless after 'c' or before 'r'". And even that rule would have exceptions.

    American-English has many roots and the spoken word may be quite different from how it is written. But that probably goes for other languages, too...
     
    #37 aoji, Jan 23, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016
  18. Estro Felino

    Estro Felino Believer in free will
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    Undoubtedly. I can assure you that thinking in a certain language influences your vision of the world and of people. In fact I am speaking English right now, but I am thinking in another language.
    This forces me to modify my attitude and the way I normally express concepts. When I speak to Native English speakers, I notice the great difference between them and me, as for expressing concepts and interacting with others.
    I repress myself a lot when I speak English, because I have to modify the way I naturally communicate with people.
     
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  19. LegionOnomaMoi

    LegionOnomaMoi Veteran Member
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    "We find these results to be convincing evidence that linguistic coding is both a facilitator of a specific cognitive style and a bottleneck, constraining mental representations in line with the output modality...There are many other results that support the idea that linguistic coding has an effect on nonlinguistic cognition...
    Where are we? I have tried to establish that (1) languages vary in their semantics just as they do in their form, (2) semantic differences are bound to engender cognitive differences, (3) these cognitive correlates of semantic differences can be empirically found on a widespread basis. As a consequence, the semantic version of Simple Nativism ought to be as dead as a dodo."
    Levinson, S. C. (2003). Language and mind: Let’s get the issues straight. In D. Getner & S. Goldin-Meadow (Eds.) Language in mind: Advances in the study of language and thought (pp. 25-46). MIT Press.
    (Levinson's work on the influence of language on spatial cognition is also cited in the influential paper Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world?. Behavioral and brain sciences, 33(2-3), 61-83.; see attached)
    Also, this "spatial" influence of language is actually wider than "simple" spatial cognition:
    Majid, A., Bowerman, M., Kita, S., Haun, D. B., & Levinson, S. C. (2004). Can language restructure cognition? The case for space. Trends in cognitive sciences, 8(3), 108-114.
    And then there's time:
    Boroditsky, L. (2001). Does language shape thought?: Mandarin and English speakers' conceptions of time. Cognitive psychology, 43(1), 1-22.

    And while my knowledge on the interaction of sign language and cognition and its relevance on the shaping of thought is limited to the following source, given the more general research on the influence of language on thought I find it more than plausible:
    Emmorey, K. (2001). Language, cognition, and the brain: Insights from sign language research. Psychology Press.

    That language has no influence over thoughts and perceptions is almost wholly unsupported by the evidence, and the contrary arguments usually address a (too oft inaccurately depicted) portrait of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, not current research.
     

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