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How Language Makes Us Think In An Unexpected Way



Language is not required for communication and many animals communicate effectively in other ways. However, language is closely associated with symbolism and therefore with conceptual thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. This unique resource makes us as humans the most adaptable and enables us to engage in highly abstract pursuits such as philosophy, art, and science that define us as human beings.


Imagine what it would be like to live without language, not without the ability to speak, but without language. It’s probably the first time you have faced the question: What does it mean for language faculty to be so fundamental that we value it potentially above all of our senses?


If the vocabulary of a language determines our self-expression, what is the role of language in forming us initially? In other words, the obvious purpose of language is to transmit thoughts from one mind to another, but how much does language determine the thoughts we have in the first place?


For example, the number of basic color terms varies considerably from one language to another. Spoken cases in New Guinea, and at home, spoken in Liberia and Sierra Leone, do not require more than two colors, one for dark / cool colors and the other for light / warm colors. This availability of terminology logically may affect a speaker’s perception of the range of colors that exist.


While colors are a clear-cut example, there are also deeper conceptual ideas that vary from language to language. For example, there is no English equivalent for the German word “Shehsuft,” which means dissatisfaction with reality and thirst for a richer, more ‘real’ ideal.


Additionally, there is a word in English for children who have lost their parents ('orphan'), and a word for people who have lost a spouse ('widow' or 'widow'), but no word for parents who have lost a child. This may mean that parents with lost children are less likely to enter our minds without the existence of such a word to name them.


The mental choices we make a day in and day out are influenced by our thinking and the basis of our thinking; borne out in the Bluish Verf Theory. The theory developed by Edward Sappier and Benjamin Lee Hurf states that the structure of a language determines or greatly influences the characteristics of thought and behavior in the culture in which it is spoken. This is also called the Huphorian hypothesis after Benjamin Lee Hurf took the theory one step further in a science magazine in 1940, arguing that our mother tongue prevented us from understanding ideas outside of our language.


So while we often think of things that cannot be said in words, such as the smell and taste of mangoes, and the morning chorus of birds, maybe it just doesn’t exist in our language.

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