Language & Thinking eBook
Language and Thinking is a must read book by Stephen Gislason who simplifies complex issues and introduces new and sometimes surprising insights.
"Humans resemble other animals in their ability to communicate. Communications involve chemical senses, sounds, body language, and visual signals. Communication is all about community, sharing information, sending warning signals and fulfilling the needs of the group. Human languages combine many different expressions of communication in a complex manner. Ideas about written language tend to dominate scholarly investigations, but sounds and gestures have been more important in the evolution of communication systems.
Speaking is a spontaneous feature of the brain, and all normal children will speak if they hear a language spoken; any language will do. Older infants imitate words they hear spoken and if adults engage them in conversation, will expand their vocabularies and start to make meaningful statements;
Words go with gestures Young children point with a pudgy index finger and say the name their pointer indicates. Pointing and naming remains an endearing characteristic for the rest of a human life. Babies follow the path of language evolution. Their progress is from the description of the immediate and concrete objects to making abstract statements about events; The first thing you do when you are learning a language is point and name. You invent nouns. Little tykes can get a lot accomplished with their pointing finger and a few nouns. Tourists in a foreign country revert to the two-year-old strategy of pointing, naming, using pantomime to replace the verbs they do not know;"
One of the most important and least recognized features of the human mind is selftalk. In adults, selftalk is described as "thinking" or “reflection.” Aristotle declared that thinking was “inner speech” and he defined the rules of logic, the proper methods of constructing relationships among statements. Selftalk is a continuous narrative feature of the mind. Through selftalk, language becomes a dominant feature of cognition. Narrative dominance enables some of the best cognitive abilities that humans display, but narrative dominance can also be disabling;
Laura Berk studied the private talk of children and suggested:” As a child gains mastery over his or her behavior, private speech need not occur in a fully expanded from; the self after all is an understanding listener. Children omit words and phrases that refer to things they already know. They state only those aspects that seem puzzling. As they practice, children start to “think words” rather than saying them. Gradually. private speech becomes internalized as silent inner speech aka thoughts.”
The recognition that selftalk is thought resolves tedious debates about the relationship of language to cognition. It is no longer necessary to argue that the structure and content of languages influence thinking. Language is thinking.