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Which do you think comes first: language or thought?


Does language stem from thought? Or does it enable thought?
I've always been quite undecided about this one - convince me ;)



Thought, most suerelly... My dog most surelly does not speak and yet she thinks and even dream (she barks while sleeping sometimes). A thought can be formed by images. Anyways, we have to decide what you define as language. Do you mean spoken language? 

Anyways, a language is a mean through wich you can define and comunicate your thoughts and is primarily formed as a thought, so it is a subproduct.


Thought comes first, language is an expression of those thoughts.

I think they are two different things. Thought is how you view and how you feel about people and things, depending on your experience. And language is a tool for communication, to express your view and feeling. When I did bad presentation in our group, my supervisor always told me to improve my knowledge and understanding about my topic, but not my English. He believes that it is the thought, not the language, that decides the quality of a talk.

But of cause, language does restrict us, to some extent, in expressing our thoughts. I'm still in an itermediate phase of English studying. I often encounter a situation when I ask myself: "How to say it in English?". Then I could not 100% focus on the thought. So we do need to improve our language, so as not to slow down our thought.



When you're alone, you don't think in words. You only 'convert' your thoughts into speech when you need to communicate.

Language follow the thought

If you have not thought at first, even if you have language, how to express it? Furthermore, the image first while on the language.

To me this raises the questions: Is perception the same as thought. And, if these things do not originate at the same time, do you mean within the development of a single individual or the development of a species. (although, as we know, evolution is not a progression, it is a continual series of adaptations...)

The thought bubbles in comic books imply that they are at least in co-existence. 

I do not know how you look, whether it is poetry or movies or exchanges. If you just only rhetoric or special effects or only physical exchanges and thus lack the spirit, content, emotion, like a machine.


Just so you know, this has long been (and still is) debated by philosophers and like every philosophy question it has no real right or wrong answer. (Though apparently we have a lot of Piaget followers around here.)

Francisco, I mean actual language like we have. Communication between animals can never quite compare to our human languages. Plants can communicate too, does that mean they think? I doubt it.

Feral children (who were never taught any language) have very limited cognitive abilities. Same goes for deaf people who were never taught sign language. You won't find any functional human beings (similar cognitively to us) who do not have language.

I doubt thought can exist completely independently from language. I would say they go hand in hand. There's no proof that babies have actual thought - though of course they experience things, are capable of perception, of responding to stimuli, etc. Alex, in my opinion none of this indicates actual thought.

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