Can we think without language ?

December 20, 2016 4:08pm CST
Everyone has a language using which they talk to themselves. When someone asks you a question in a different language than your native tongue, we generally convert the content put at us into the language comfortable to us. Bur imagine if language did not exist. It would be very difficult for you to communicate with anybody. You may then try to use hand motions, eye and body gestures to convey a message which might work like sign language. But how would you communicate with yourself. You might not be able to give yourself instructions because there doesn't exist a carrier (language) to convey stuff to your brain. For ex. If you wanted to plan your day ... You say to yourself- "I need to wake up at XX hrs and do the necessary packing to get myself prepared for leaving to the airport". Without language you cannot convey this message to your brain, due to the lack of a communication medium, which would channel and make sense of individual words into sensible information (language), using some combinations (grammar rules). But this idea is WRONG !! Our brain can actually think and function without language with ease. Our brain can, not only process verbal information but also visual information. Our eyes make pictures which are stored in the brain. Using these images our brain reconstructs different scenes from the pictures in our memory. So for the above example our brain will think and bring pictures into memory when we try to plan the day. The brain would probably contain a picture of the clock which would mean to wake up and then an aeroplane to remind that you need to go to the airport. food for thought - If we actually never had language in the present world and if we all communicated through hand and body movements, our minds would have expanded immensely and the world would seem more visual, scenic and picturesque.
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2 responses
@jhechorain (1218)
• Susanville, California
21 Dec 16
Yes our brains can think without language but then our brain will want to decipher the image. This brings in the need of language doesn't it? It takes us back to the cave man times before language when we put images on cave walls to communicate.
2 people like this
21 Dec 16
@jhechorian You haven't read this article of mine am guessing. Your idea is correct but the reasoning is flawed. Make an opinion after reading what is written as content not just the title. Let me try to explain this in an easier way. For ex. - When I tell the words 'Juicy Mango' it brings a picture of a big juicy pulpy yellow mango into my mind ! My brain doesnt have to decipher anything in the image here. The image says it all. This is also the case for directions, when you travelling someplace, you tend to navigate with the pictures in your mind, of the places you've been to and the route required to traverse it. Hope you get it :D Read the article fully for a more expanded view on this subject . @sabtraversa What do you think about what Jani has said ?
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@sabtraversa (13329)
• Italy
21 Dec 16
@Dream_Cloud Yes our brains can think without language but then our brain will want to decipher the image. It misses the "we want to decipher because we need to communicate what we think to another person". Well, "decipher" might not be the right noun, I would have thought of "describe". Once someone tells us something, we transform it into an image so it's easier to visualize and remember. An image we saw before, so yeah, we decipher somehow in this case. From language to image. Unless someone shows us the mango, then no language needed.
@sabtraversa (13329)
• Italy
20 Dec 16
That's what I thought: images. How would you describe in images what you wrote though? And how would I respond with another image? It would surely be a different world, a fantasy one perhaps.
1 person likes this
20 Dec 16
There is no way we can create a substitue for language. Without language communication would be very very tough. My guess is that sign language would be the means to communicate with one another. We cannot communicate effectively using images as the process is very time consuming and vague without details and nuances . Language solves this problem. However, without a language we can think to ourselves without any problem. The communication of our body with our mind far exceeds that of mere language and one of the ways the brain does this is by using the visual parts of the brain to full use. Indeed the world would be a fantasy one, where everyone appreciates the wonders and mysteries of this insane universe. Less of bullshit talk and more of being one with the world. @Sabrina Traversa It was good knowing you share my point of view .. :D
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@sabtraversa (13329)
• Italy
20 Dec 16
@Dream_Cloud Right, we can't explain abstract concepts through images, for example. I mean, we can try but we're likely to fail as we aren't telepathic. Symbols and sign language are still languages after all. And linking to your other discussion about the perception of colors, there are flaws in the language itself, with images it could be way worse.
@sabtraversa (13329)
• Italy
20 Dec 16
@Dream_Cloud I guess images are better when you want to communicate something real in details, in an objective way too. I would say hieroglyphs were still symbols. And symbols come from pictures, the letter O represents a mouth that makes such sound. Most people are also better at remembering images than written info, so I agree with you about the image creating a stronger feeling. I can't think of a very effective way to communicate, sounds can still evoke different feelings. Non-verbal communication (involuntary movements) is not always easy to comprehend. Telepathy would be the one.