Which comes first, thought or language?

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  1. Sue Adams profile image96
    Sue Adamsposted 6 years ago

    Which comes first, thought or language?


  2. englishwithjohn profile image57
    englishwithjohnposted 6 years ago

    Thought would come first. What would language map onto if there was no thought? We think in pictures and relations in ways language can't often capture. Language is linear thought is parallel so more complex and language is an attempt to represent thought and communicate and influence others.

  3. connorj profile image80
    connorjposted 6 years ago

    Definitely thought, followed by associations, usually picture-like then a quantum leap to a more abstract visual we may call langauge.

  4. suravajhala profile image74
    suravajhalaposted 6 years ago

    Thought is a process in the mind of a human body.  Thought provides us the visual images to recognise a particular thing, article etc.  Accordingly it sends signals to the other sensory organs to respond.  Communication is to communicate your thoughts that is understandable to others.  Man is a social animal, he want to share his thoughts his fellow beings.  So the language come into being.  Different sounds become a language.  There are "n" number of language on this earth.  But the thought process is the same.

  5. PhiMaths ATB profile image60
    PhiMaths ATBposted 6 years ago

    I agree with that thought comes first, linguistic evidence seems to imply this, as does to phenomenon of people being able to speak various languages without an intermediate translation step.

    I also curious what John meant by language mapping onto thought. This seems possible but I would be interested in more details. ...?

  6. RAStout profile image59
    RAStoutposted 6 years ago

    Thought. Language is simply the tool to help us express and share thought. Thought can still occur and you can still recognize things without having a name for them.

  7. Randy M. profile image86
    Randy M.posted 6 years ago

    From a Cartesian viewpoint perception comes first, which is in a large part determined unconsciously by our social conditioning.  Our nature and our conditioning then lead us to verbal expression.  Nature has a large role in determining the direction of the thought.  However, the range of expression with language depends on our conditioning and education. 

    You can get too mechanistic or materialistic in describing how we produce language as well.  For instance, in unusual circumstances when there are people who "speak in tongues" is there any thought process at all, or is it coming from another source beyond thought?  In inspired speakers, is there what we would call conventional thought occurring in the background while they are speaking?


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