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Old 12th April 2011, 09:43 AM   #1
thadman is offline thadman  United States
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Default The relationship between Language and Thought

If I "think" in English, as that is my arterial language, and a German "thinks" in German, as that is his arterial language, how does a person, who doesn't speak a particular language, "think"?

To satisfy the inherent constraints of this philosophical dilemma, assume that the latter individual has existed on a deserted tropical island in the pacific for his entire life. One rich in natural resources, but necessarily devoid of any potential for human contact and interaction.

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Old 12th April 2011, 11:28 AM   #2
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Two guesses:
1. pictures
2. invent his own language
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Old 12th April 2011, 02:41 PM   #3
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I have not seen any of the movies, but Tarzan managed. E
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Old 12th April 2011, 04:17 PM   #4
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Some out-of-the-ordinary Lounge talk. Personally I think the premise is flawed. DF96 made good guesses, but I think language is strictly a communication medium; it has no meaning or utility to a single individual. Pictures I tend to agree with wholeheartedly, if that includes abstractions. Rather than a castaway, the question caused me to consider someone like Helen Keller.
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Old 12th April 2011, 04:27 PM   #5
SY is offline SY  United States
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Sofa, that's not clear. You can have an individual on an island, but his brain is the product of several million years as a social animal- language, in a sense, is wired-in. There's a lot of work being done to understand that- some of the best is happening in the Ramscar lab at Stanford, though I'm prejudiced because of Prof. Ramscar's excellent taste in Chablis.
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Old 12th April 2011, 04:46 PM   #6
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Sure. It's interesting and research into its understanding is worthwhile. But I see your question begging another question. Is my brain wired in for American English, the Dutch of my paternal ancestors, the German of my maternal ancestors, or wired-in for some unknown language from prehistory? Hence, I stand by my statement. Granted, my definition of language may differ from the academic. But that has not been addressed, to my mind. I see a difference between "language" as a human communication tool and "language" as a brain-organizing tool. It's the latter that I don't concede to be language. I may well be wrong. I just see a rather large and unavoidable distinction.
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Old 12th April 2011, 04:49 PM   #7
SY is offline SY  United States
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d) None of the above. Wasn't it Chomsky who posited universal grammar?
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Old 12th April 2011, 04:53 PM   #8
Ron E is offline Ron E  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thadman View Post
To satisfy the inherent constraints of this philosophical dilemma, assume that the latter individual has existed on a deserted tropical island in the pacific for his entire life. One rich in natural resources, but necessarily devoid of any potential for human contact and interaction.
Google "Tabula Rasa"
it's all theoretical and very difficult to prove anything useful.
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Old 12th April 2011, 05:09 PM   #9
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SY View Post
Wasn't it Chomsky who posited universal grammar?
Yes. And there is quite a bit of controversy about this at the moment, as Chomsky may have been proved wrong.

Please see the book "Don't sleep, there are snakes." A language with no recursion. That would invalidate much of Chomsky.
There is a good bit of video on the book's author, Daniel Everett, on Youtube.

Thought and language have been a topic of fascination from ancient times. There are tomes and tomes on the subject.
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Old 12th April 2011, 06:10 PM   #10
Gyuri is offline Gyuri  Hungary
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"The Hungarian language goes far back. It developed in a very particular manner and its structure reaches back to times, when most of the now spoken European languages did not even exist. It is a language which developed steadily and firmly in itself, and in which there is logic and mathematics with the adaptability and malleability of strength and chords. The Englishmen should be proud that his language indicates an epic of human history. One can show forth its origin; and alien layers can be distinguished in it, which gathered together during the contacts with different nations. Whereas the Hungarian language is like a rubble-stone; consisting of only one piece, on which the storms of time left not a scratch. It's not a calendar that adjusts to the changes of the ages. It needs no one, it doesn't borrow, does no buckstering, and doesn't give or take from anyone. This language is the oldest and most glorious monument of a national sovereignty and a mental independence. What scholars cannot solve, they ignore. In philosophy it's the same way as archeology. The floors of the old Egyptian temples, which were made out of only one rock, can't be explained. No one knows where they came from, or from which mountain the wonderous mass was taken. How they were transported and lifted to the top of the temples. The genuineness of the Hungarian language is a phenomenon much more wonderous than this. He who solves it shall be analyzing the Divine secret; in fact the first thesis of this secret: “In the beginning there was Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Sir John Bowring
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