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You can only think what You can say.

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posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 01:47 AM
reply to post by mrwupy


Gen"der*less\, a. Having no gender.

Are you serious? And there are synonyms for that. There's really a word for everything, some people just aren't trying hard enough or are attempting to make this more difficult than it really is.

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 02:55 AM
reply to post by lordtyp0

Control expression and you control thought is the basic principle.

Yes, and it is an incorrect principle. It has its roots in theories of conditioning that belong to the primitive era of psychology, and which have since been overturned or vastly modified. At bottom it is the old, false belief that the human mind is a blank slate on which social conditioning, especially nurture in childhood, writes the individual personality.

The manifestation of this principle in linguistics is known, I believe, as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Desipite the work of people like Chomsky and Pinker, there are still many linguists who cling to it. Its premise is basically that of shrodingers dog's original post: you can only think what you can say, because the scope of mentation is defined by vocabulary.

I think it is quite easy, when you put it like that, to see that the premise is false. If the scope of our thinking was constrained by our vocabularies there would truly be nothing new under the sun. We know that a word does not exist until something requiring naming comes into existence; There are no spare words sitting around in the vocabularies of humankind, waiting to be attached to new things as they turn up. Someone must go to the trouble of coining a word for every new thing. But how, before that word is coined, is the thing even to be perceived?

Here we find ourselves faced with an obvious impossibility, the only escape from which is into childish paradox, like the cranks in What the Bleep insisting that the Native Americans couldn't see Colombus's ships because they didn't have a concept 'ship'.

Actually, we often think the unspeakable. I agree with RuneSpider; a thought is often better expressed as a visual/spatial relationship or a kinaesthetic sequence than in words. In particular, I know this to be true when it comes to music. A musician, while playing, is thinking all the time. His thoughts relate to the music being heard and played. I'm not talking about feelings; these are aesthetic judgements, as well as imagined future scenarios and decisions based on those judgements. They have a large imaginative component and arise as the musician's mind travels along the various feedback loops and sensory relationships he inhabits in the moment: between ears and fingers, between tone and tone, between rhythm and syncope, between mind and mind. Many of the musician's thoughts aren't remotely expressible in words; any attempt to do so, apart from being incomplete and fatally long-winded, would serve only to deprive them of meaning.

I'm sure there are other examples. What about a mathematician manipulating a string of equations? A kung-fu artist in mid-bout? A chess hustler hunched over a board? A naval fighter pilot trying to land his aircraft on a pitching carrier deck? These people are certainly thinking very hard, but are their thoughts words? We could put them into words, perhaps, but very poorly, and always at the expense of true comprehension, which in such cases always lies with the act, not the word.

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 03:05 AM
We could always find words that match the experience we have. As long as we have a dictionary. Trust me. I'm also learning other languages, and I feel that my IQ and understanding of the world has raised in this period as well. So there is a definite language and thought connection.

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 03:44 AM

Originally posted by Heike
...I've been thinking about it since though, and it has occurred to me to mention that when I am thinking in German, not only do I think the German words and terminology, but my thinking patterns are different because German sentence structure differs from English. German sentences translated into English can be very awkward because things are ordered differently. So when my language changes, my thinking patterns change, too.

Also, because German uses definitive articles for objects that specify gender (der, die, das), when I am thinking in German the idea of an object (table, window, door, plate, etc.) comes with its attached "gender," (masculine, feminine, or neuter) although in English I don't think of objects as having a gender, because in English they don't. How weird is that?

Hey SD, what would you think about expanding your thread to consider how the internet has changed our thinking processes by changing our language? Just as an example, my first reaction these days to someone asking me about a subject I don't know much about is "I don't know, let's google it." The concept of "googling' something didn't exist just a few years ago; faced with the same question I would have had to say "I don't know, we need to find someone who knows more about it or look it up at the library..." That's just one little example there because I don't want to derail your thread without getting your reaction ... but what do you think? Or perhaps it could be worth its own thread...

When I was a kid I had a babysitting job taking care of 2 German kids whose parents were grad students in the U.S. The older of the two kids was about 2 1//2, and she was such a trip, because although she spoke both German and English, she didn't really understand that they were different languages
One of the ways this showed up was that she'd speak English words in German syntax, which could be very confusing.

I do the gender-attachment thing with French.

And I think it might be worthwhile to have a new thread on the internet's affect on thought patterns. Not only are there new words and concepts, like Googling, the "web"-ness is unlike previous modes of communication. I think it encourages associations that might not be made without having the familiarity of a source of information that's pretty non-linear.

Finally (not in response to you, Heike) I still think Pinker is full of poop. And Chomsky is mainly full of poop. And the world is far greater than we can understand.

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 03:57 AM
reply to post by Heike

Hey SD, what would you think about expanding your thread to consider how the internet has changed our thinking processes by changing our language? Just as an example, my first reaction these days to someone asking me about a subject I don't know much about is "I don't know, let's google it." The concept of "googling' something didn't exist just a few years ago.

Hold your horses, Heike.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is exploded and about time too; it was a piece of racist/cultural-relativist junk. Changing our language does not change the way we think, or even what we think. All it does is affect, temporarily, our cultural outlook - as you so vividly described in an earlier post.

The concept of 'googling' didn't exist a few years ago? Possibly that was because the act of googling didn't exist a few years ago. First came the act, then the word. As ever.

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 04:06 AM
Asserting that the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is dead does not make it so. There are an awful lot of people in an awful lot of fields who do not buy into the Chomsky/Pinker "universal grammar". (Anyone interested might look into Lakoff and his idea of the "embodied mind").

And where did the accusation of racism come from? The hypothesis originated in a cultural anthropology that was imperialist and racist, yes, but the hypothesis itself is not.

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 04:06 AM
reply to post by schrodingers dog

Of course, but thats only limited to internal verbal dialect. Words are just words until you put the emotion behind them. The brain works on emotions, causing the senses of the body to react accordingly.

I don't know about you but I can feel emotions without speaking/thinking them. I believe language is only a part of our thought process.

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 06:01 AM
this makes me feel genius

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 07:17 AM
Understanding is the key,a good example is puzzles,i ask a question, you may have an answer,is it right?
I once heard that planes fly down to land , but is possible to fly up to land, i was told that nairobi is 5000 feet above sea level, and so illogical becomes logical.
Is turquoise green or blue? maybe its all about degrees?,mike

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 09:16 AM
Interesting thought, I like it.

I'll have to disagree abit though. Although i'm not sure how to put up a debate whilst still making sense.

There have been times when i'm not really 'thinking' about something, but more so feeling it, taking everything in at once and seeing it from every angle.
A situation can be 'felt' and at the same time making more sense than words ever could.

And more importantly, deeper understandings of life can often be FELT but not spoken. But again, they make more sense than words do.

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 09:17 AM
reply to post by ConMi27

I laughed at that for a minute and I don't know why.

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 12:05 PM
I couldn't disagree with the OP more. Ever hear of non linguistic thought? I actually attempted to think while not using any words. At first, my brain was lightning fast, but it got so hard to control. Instead of saying "I will do this tomorrow", I would just think it with one thought and no words. After about 30 minutes of doing this (with some minor screw ups), my brain was tired. It was taxing to force myself to think this way, and it was very hard to control. However, you can think without words. Most of the time you do it without realizing it. In fact, most of our thoughts are without words on a subconscious level. On this level, our brain works more on feelings and images than anything with a foundation such as language.

What's the difference between humans and animals? Linguistic thought. Though you may be able to think faster without language, you can not form a construct. You can not have goals. You can not base things on each other and build your way up.

But as far as thought is concerned we are restricted by our language.

So then babies have no thoughts?

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 01:04 PM

Originally posted by americandingbat

...I think it's part of the human need to tell stories, to make sense of experience.

I'm not sure that words are the only kind of symbols we can use to think with, but I do believe that we think in symbols.

Maybe to me, thinking in math or chemistry is like a musician thinking in music -- it's just one area in which the verbal mechanisms that usually filter everything we experience get bypassed.

symbols, metaphor, stories - I agree

sometimes while painting I get so deep into it - I realize there's been no storyline to my thoughts for a while - it's as if color - relationships between color/light/dark, etc. are their own language

it's interesting - it's more of a conversation with your self - more interactive - than the usual dialogue that's running in the background

when I stop, it's like coming out of a dream - where everything just made sense - but now it doesn't

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 01:13 PM
reply to post by schrodingers dog

you may have just explained religion

the need for words/story to explain what we don't understand

we come up with words to describe things - but a story could be viewed as just a complicated word

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 01:48 PM
There is a very interesting paper backing up my hypothesis from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy :

The Language of Thought Hypothesis

First published Thu May 28, 1998; substantive revision Tue Jul 27, 2004

The Language of Thought Hypothesis (LOTH) postulates that thought and thinking take place in a mental language. This language consists of a system of representations that is physically realized in the brain of thinkers and has a combinatorial syntax (and semantics) such that operations on representations are causally sensitive only to the syntactic properties of representations. According to LOTH, thought is, roughly, the tokening of a representation that has a syntactic (constituent) structure with an appropriate semantics. Thinking thus consists in syntactic operations defined over such representations. Most of the arguments for LOTH derive their strength from their ability to explain certain empirical phenomena like productivity and systematicity of thought and thinking.

I know it is a rather long paper, but it is comprehensive and well worth a read if one is interested in this subject.

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 02:07 PM
reply to post by schrodingers dog

So then do you believe that animals do not have thoughts? What about babies? A thought that an animal may have could be "I will look for food because I'm hungry". They would not think this thought using words, but they still have thoughts.

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 02:19 PM

Originally posted by schrodingers dog
reply to post by americandingbat

You know, I'm not married to this idea, that's why I'm throwing it out there for consideration. But I think that if you take the time a few times a day to stop and notice yourself thinking, you will find that every thought has a word attached to it.
Maybe I'm wrong.
But I don't see how else thought is even possible.

[edit on 9/21/2008 by schrodingers dog]

Thoughts are expressed indeed in words (I am now not talking about those who always think in something else than words spoken in your head). Yet it is not true that one thought is always expressed by one word. Sometimes it is and sometimes it needs more words to describe it.

By the way new words enter our language to accomodate for new objects and or situations. And sometime people have their own words for things, which only they and say their friends know.

I wonder though, have you ever felt something that you could not express in words? It seems that your main focus is on feelings, not on external things like objects and situations.

[edit on 22-9-2008 by QueenofWeird]

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 02:36 PM
You create words to give the image or emotion of your thought a symbol that can be seen or heard to the outside world.

That is why language does not have a limit and words always created, the dictionary will grow because thoughts and are so complex that words are needed translate it. Human's make their own language regardless of being taught or not, I have a different sound for different pains but does not mean I need a specific word for every kind. Picking up something with your arm requires a lot of computing and I bet a lot of processes happen and hundreds of words can be used to describe the action but only a few is needed to let people know what you mean.

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 03:18 PM
Before you blow off Sapir-whorff,

Try expressing yourself in e-prime.

I could argue that the mere act of trying to conform to good e-prime grammar is enough alter your state of consciousness.

Wikipedia on e-prime

E-prime: a primer

Robert Anton Wilson on E-prime

all the best.

posted on Sep, 22 2008 @ 03:50 PM
reply to post by schrodingers dog

I must disagree. There are many images, feelings, and so on that I experience in my thinking processes, and often I cannot begin to relay the thoughts to others.

It may be because I seldom think in words - no voice giving a running commentary in my head. I have been told others - in fact most - DO have this voice describing their thinking. But I do not. I think in images and feelings.

So it may well be that most cannot think something unless they have a word for it, but I know it is not true for all.

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