This is much ado about nothing but, I think in images sometimes. Pictures. No words are involved. Let me ask this, just out of curiosity. Is sign language a form of imagery, or a form of language ?
I do not deny that we picture things at time. But we must make the distinction between two claims here.
I am claiming that we do not think in
pictures. You are claiming that we sometimes think with
pictures. I do not deny your claim. I sometimes picture something before I affirm it or deny it, or say it. Thus, my claim is utterly different from yours. I take this effort to explain my position so that you might understand how we are not in disagreement and, generally, because it is helpful to dispel certain realist confusions about...well, just about anything.
I am claiming that thought does not consist of a finite or infinite set of markings which can be combined in certain or other ways to form finite constructs like sentences and words. Thought does not have a vocabulary, for instance. It cannot be "grammatical" or "ungrammatical." Thought cannot be "correct" with respect to a dictionary or a thing like a dictionary. There is no public standard which determines the correctness or incorrectness of a thought insofar as its form, syntax, etc because thoughts do not have a form nor a syntax.
As is evidenced by its name, sign language is a language. All language corresponds to images. Words are images, letters images, sentences are combinations of images and thus they are themselves images. Phonetically, words are images as well: sound-pictures, etc. Gestures are images, hand gestures, sign language, etc. This depends on what it means to say a thing is an image of another thing.
"God created man in his image" makes perfect sense so long as you don't narrow the definition of "image" to just mean "picture with a frame" or "something like what we see at the art museum."
Do you understand the distinction between our claims now? All language consists of images which are mapped to a form. Images are the semantics; form is the syntax (grammar). Images can correspond correctly or incorrectly, accurately or inaccurately, rightly or wrongly; form can be structured or unstructured, grammatical or ungrammatical, etc.
"Correctness" and "grammaticality" are concepts that stand or fall, are ultimately judged, by public criteria: social, conventional, etc.
So sign language is not "a form of imagery" as opposed to "being a language." All language is a "form of imagery," though language at the same time also includes
a form of form
. Two necessary conditions to be a language are that the language has a syntax (vocabulary, grammar--imagery) and a semantics (meanings--which correspond to the images).
Sign language has both. Gestures are the syntax, and these gestures more or less map to the meanings of our other natural languages. Yes, sign language is a natural language (just like English).