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Language & thought

  1. Oct 4, 2004 #1
    i have a feeling this has been posted b4
    (language, like chinese, russian, swahili, english, spanish, japanese, sanskrit...etc)

    Do u think that language determines a people's or person's comprehension/aptitute/intelligence...their way of thinking?

    For a language without or definitions for certain concepts means that people knowing that language (not other languages) cannon or may not, could not or would not or might not be able to understand such concepts?

    Since we all think in language...well, u can't think about language without using language (no metalanguage)...does language itself determine what we can think, how we might think--how logically, comprehensively, intuitively, understandably, exemplifiably...(and all those other adverbs)--or even our aptitude/intelligence/reasoning along with skills of classification/observation/reflection/evaluation...etc///

    Basically the LANGUAGE....can it determine that? if it could, could this account for differences in thought, cultural perspectives...etc..well, it probably wouldn't cause THAT much difference, but then again... can language determine the other stuff i mentioned in the my middle three stanzas/paragraphs/lines?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 4, 2004 #2
    1, 2, 3.

    Several so called "primitive" people, such as the Piraha tribe of Amazonian Indians in Brazil, only count from one to three.

    One means "roughly one," two means "a small quantity" and three means "many."
  4. Oct 4, 2004 #3
    Memory is what language is based upon. It is thought, which is expressed verbally, physically or in written forms. Before it is expressed or can be expressed in a spoken language it must first be a unit of thought. Before anything can be a thought it must first be sensed from the physical enviroment.

    People without the language or concepts another language has does't mean that this person, or people of limited language did not sense these physical things or like organizations of physical things represented by words or concepts.

    Memory represents physical states of environment. Order, logic, analysis is based upon comparisons of physical states of enviroment. When a language has more definitions and concepts it can accomplish what human memory does, in that it represents physical things also. The difference is that memory can fade, where written symbols can retain more quantity and more accuracy can be developed. I'll forge the verbatim of this message, but not the paper in which I print it out on. This will be determined by physical decay.

    If a human language highlights things, it can change how precise or how much we remember of what we have sensed, because when we see the symbols on pages or hear the words, they invoke the memory trove once again, where naturally we may have forgotton without the outside influence.

    If it weren't for Tycho Brahe, his predecessor wouldn't have had the data bank available. Although they sensed the same things up in the sky, as well as everyone else over history, the empirical language data bank made it possible to approach the physical astronomy in the sky with the historical data bank in mind. This data bank gave physical a physical hisotry of the stars, that made one see years of great distances in one night, with great precision based upon the contemporary theories. In other words, I believe Tycho's data bank increased the possibility a Copernicus could have had such a Copernicus theory.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2004
  5. Oct 5, 2004 #4
    Language is a tool like any other. No matter how hard you look for that wonder tool that does it all, Sears just doesn't have it.

    However I would make another comparison of language to music. Modern music theory focuses on the spaces between the notes. No spaces, no silences, and the notes become a meaningless cacouphany. In the case of language, it is those things which cannot be put into precise words that the silences are made of. Our feelings and attitudes, spirituality and awareness.

    Natural language is filled with vague terms, and as fast as it adopts more precise definitions and terms it also adopts more vague ones. It defines the boarder between thought and feeling... but not too precisesly.
  6. Oct 5, 2004 #5
    Hmmm. Interesting. That seems right. But, what do you mean when you say silent? Will you answer this question?
  7. Oct 6, 2004 #6
    Again, those things that cannot be put into precise words. Our feelings and attitudes, spirituality and awareness. This is also why poetry is so powerful, it emphasises such silences just as music does.
  8. Nov 18, 2004 #7
    Paradise and the tower of Babel.

    If I understand the meaning of the word 'paradise' correctly it translates into 'that what cannot be said with words' or 'beyond/above the spoken.' When words are not sufficient to describe a state that we know exists but for which we have no meaningful words, we can say that they are beyond the spoken language. The realm where god 'roams' for instance, or in a more scientific setting, of what existed (or not) before the Big Bang is beyond description by any of the words we use today.

    The origin of words may go back a long time, but how long...? Some monkeys already have a vocabulary of twenty to forty sounds that have a clear meaning. I have seen a documentary on vervet monkeys who can make a sound to tell their fellow vervets that an eagle is roaming the sky, and a different sound when a snake is crawling dangerously close by. I saw the members all start to jump up after the 'snake sound,' and look up after the 'eagle sound.'

    Within our human history the story of the tower of Babel is wide spread. I think this story tells us something about the conflict humans had about how the whole picture of earth and sun were put together. We all know that the tower of Babel was about creating a tower to the sun; a construction to the sun. I think it is a story about the confusion that appeared when humans tried - not to create a construction to the sun - but to create a construct about the position of the sun.

    When at the equator, the sun rises high above in the sky at noon. If our ancestors had begun the be more nomadic - that is, started to roam larger and larger areas - then the phenomenon of a shifting sun in the sky would deliver contradicting stories that could be verified only after travelling large distances. If all tribes were able to communicate with each other then there had to be a point in time when tribes in the North would start telling a different story about the position of the sun than tribes in the South.

    It would really take a long time before this would become a topic, but once it had become a topic it becomes more than just absolutely all-consuming. One tribe would say that the sun moves up and down, but never further up than their own location, while the other tribe would say that the sun moves up and down, but never further down than their own location.

    To make certain that they were talking about the sun in the same position they would line up body next to body, and the tribe from the North would have the sun come up on the left side, while the tribe from the South would have the sun come up on the right side. If the earth was flat in their minds there would have not been a single shred of doubt that the other folks were completely totally pulling their legs. And after further sworn testimonies the tribes would not be able than to completely split up over this issue.

    Especially when these tribes had a vocabulary, but not an extensive vocabulary as we have today then the position of the sun may have been truly important. The sun may have been used as the guiding star in the sky to help position yourself. Conflicting ideas about the sun would then lead to not meeting up with your fellow tribes anymore; endangering a positive outcome for that tribe.

    I would not be surprised if this is the moment in time when our human ancestors really started to roam the planet. If they were curious about the position of the sun, they could have populated the planet just with this simple goal in mind to find out what the heck the position of the sun truly was. While on the go, they could have figured out that it was not the sun, but their very own feet that created the weird position, and with the knowledge that the earth was round another reason to trek around the globe could have been instilled in them

    Eratosthenes http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Eratosthenes.html had already calculated the circumference of the earth more than 22 centuries ago. The idea of a flat earth may have become more popular afterwards in the dark ages, but before it may have been an ordinary idea.
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