Languages and Thought

Tue 27 Jul, 2004 10:26 am
Changing how the thoughts/feelings etc are expressed does not change the feelings. The fact that language is inadequate says pretty clearly that it is not changing them despite not being able to reproduce them correctly. Maybe your expression of the feeling is suppressed, but not the feeling itself.

And with infants - there are nonverbal ways of communicating too - and you're right, they are probably better at getting at things like feelings as opposed to logical patterns.
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Wed 28 Jul, 2004 10:43 pm
I haven't looked at Patio's link, but I am always always interested in what Patio has to say.

I'll be baack, what 'er the use of it, as time scrolls by.
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Mon 20 Sep, 2004 09:15 am
McTag wrote:
"The method of expressing thoughts actually changes the thoughts"
I'm sure that's true, esp wrt feelings. When I try to articulate feelings, my language is inadequate, and the feeling itself seems to be suppressed (by the effort of describing it?)

I agree. There are some things that cannot be conveyed effectively no matter how good your level of language. For example, when I was in Ecuador I saw some beautiful things but now it's impossible to descibe them effectively and no-one can understand the sheer beauty of them. Even photos don't show it all. It's quite frustrating!
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Wed 29 Sep, 2004 02:04 pm
Does the fact that the photos cannot show their beauty make them any less beautiful or change your personal experience of having seen them?
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Mon 8 Nov, 2004 04:20 pm
Re: Languages and Thought
Yes, to some degree it does.

The Sapir-Whorff hypothesis states that our languages actually determines how we perceive the world. He did rechearch on f.e. Hopi indian tribe: that had no past or future tense. They divided the worldinto two categories the objective and the subjective. subjective things are always in a state of "becoming" an objective (like building a house or so). NAture determines when this happens. No deadlines there, lucky bastards...

Being bi-lingual doesn't do the trick. You already have both languages systeem stored in your head and can not remove one systeem when speaking the other.

Asian's with a very "sound delicate" language actually have there hearing center next to the language center in their brain. Westerners have it somewhere else (dunno where exactly). Evolution moved theirs (or ours?) to another part of the brain

The Military f.e. tries to change your perception by naming their activities in terms of positive but vague terms. Desert Shield, Enduring Freedom etc.. They do this to change your perception. I never heard of operations "killing 40.000 civilians". but it has happened..

See Conformity and conflict by Spradley chapters 7,8 and 9
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Sun 21 Nov, 2004 01:44 pm
Doesn't anyone ever come up with their own hypotheses on this? All I ever frickin hear about in this discussion is some new mindless idiot quoting the Sapir-Wharf hypothesis. Sheesh.

Also, human beings are all the same species, and we all have the same parts in the same places (unless something's wrong with us).

And euphemism is either simply lying or it's useless because you know what it means anyway.
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Thu 7 Jul, 2005 10:25 am
Had a mind to resurrect this thread today -- thinking about language and the way we think, as opposed to the content of our thoughts.

Perhaps not relevant directly to the thread, unless someone can come up with a way that different languages might influence this process, but relevance doesn't really matter in a dead thread.

So -- language fundamentally changes the way we can use our memory. Now, anatomically, the bits of the brain that appear to be involved in putting together memories are highly interwoven with the bits of our brain that mediate emotional experiences. To an animal without any semblance of language -- a dog, say -- this makes perfect sense: experiences that elicit a strong emotional reaction are likely to be ones that it would be useful to remember.

(It's tempting to think that this is why emotions exist, but the stimulus-response aspect of an emotional reaction is certainly valuable, as well. It seems plausible, though, as you move up the evolutionary ladder, that both emotional and mnemonic faculties become more highly developed -- feeding each other, as it were.)

Language, though, gives us another route by which we can form memories, even when we are only thinking something out on our own. I'm pretty sure that my dogs can't sit down and recount for themselves an experience earlier in the day, tell the story to themselves, rework it in their memories, and then put it down in newly-wrought symbolic form that can be reapplied to future scenarios with greater efficacy than the emotionally-mediated memory they'd first recorded from the experience. In fact, we can remember enoromous tracts of information in which we have no emotional investment whatsoever. Anecdotally, I'd say that this memory has a different quality than memory forged in emotional experience (perhaps because there is no emotional re-experience upon recall), but it's memory nonetheless, and extraordinarily useful to us as a species.

And a thought on the origin of language, as well. It seems to me that when folks speculate about the origin of language, they are generally thinking about language as a medium for exchanging information between individuals. This is particularly troublesome for those who think (and it seems to be the case) that certain elements of language are hardwired into our brains. How does language arise, then, if structures must first exist to produce it? Well, if these structures (simple circuits reiterated many, many times seems to be the M.O. of the computer and of the brain) evolved because they were useful for organizing memory, and later became useful for language, this particular chicken-and-egg issue regarding the origin of language is eliminated.

Perhaps -- more idle speculation, please don't hold me to any of this -- there is a significant degree of correlation between animals we regard as having some rudimentary protolanguage skills and animals that we regard as having long memories. Elephants, whales, birds, other apes come to mind...

Just some idle mind chatter. Should get up and go do some wiring soon...
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Tue 28 May, 2024 12:19 am
I've heard similar things about the differences between Romance and Asian languages, but I'm curious about the specifics. As someone who also speaks only one language fluently, I wonder if bilingual or multilingual individuals experience any noticeable shifts in perception when switching between languages. If anyone has personal experiences or insights to share, I'd love to hear them. Additionally, if there's any research available online exploring this topic further, I'd be keen to delve into it.
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