I have always wondered if we did not have language could we have thought? Because when I think I think in the language I was first accustomed to when I was young, but we cannot obviously think in japanese or german if you don't know these languages. So if we did not know any language could we have a thought but just not know how to express it?
Yes, we can think without language but in some ways words facilitate thought. And make expressing it possible.
From the linked article (thank you screwtape
), it reveals something few people probably would have considered: that language restricts thought in part. I say in part because it also allows us to learn things we have never experienced, thus expanding our knowledge.
So, if I am understanding this correctly, we think in pictures then translate it into the language that we know?
No, it's not that separate. For some things, like riding a motorcycle, we don't use language at all – the mind focuses on the sensations associated with the experience to do it correctly again. But when discussing riding a motorcycle, the mind utilizes the connections between the various concepts and their linked words to form the verbal/written expressions needed for the communication.
Contrary to Samuelxcs
comment, none of us translates
the concepts we're using into our native language; we have it more ingrained than that. (Although he may have had a valid thought that he was unable to properly express.) But as kevinagain
indicated, we don't need to access that info all the time.
"Turn right" is a concept that has several very tight connections in our minds: the words, the feeling of turning right as we walk, the feeling of turning right as we drive a car, the feeling of turning right as we ride a motorcycle, what you see when turning right as you step out of your room/house/cubical and maybe a few others. Then there are more loosely connected concepts that are then linked: rules for turning right in traffic, any accidents you had while turning right, who you might want to avoid when exiting your house/cubicle, etc.
I took German in high school and got to a point where I thought in German. The concepts were just there in German without translation. I have forgotten most of it but I know that "Tur" is a door and "Tisch" is a table without translating. What's really weird is I can partially understand things but translating is the difficult point.
As for deaf and blind people, non-auditory symbols are still words and still connected to concepts but the set of tightly linked concepts is going to be different than the set a sighted or hearing-capable person has. And at times you run into weird gaps like English not having a single word for "hearing-capable" like sighted is for "vision-capable" – not one that came to my mind anyways.
Nothing goes with the pictures? They are meaningless without words?
The concept exists alone but has tight links to the word and picture.
.....how was language developed without thought?
Considering your other posts, I'm guessing you're asking that to point out to people that we needed to develop thought first to a degree at least. There was possibly some concurrent development of thought and speech such as making sounds to alert others which led to meaning getting assigned to certain sounds and then recognition of combining sounds (and their meanings) to enhance communication then to language.
Consider the fact that great apes have been taught sign language. They have a quite small natural vocabulary (of sounds used among their own kind) but can learn a fair amount of human sign language. They only use it symbolically but that is still a significant achievement. So thought is there even though they have not developed a language of their own.