Thinking And Language This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   As you jet from one class to the next and from one article to another while reading this newspaper, take a minute to think about what you are doing. Your brain is constantly processing information and interpreting it. How do you interpret the information? In other words, how do you think? Do you think in words? Pictures? English? A different language? Do you "feel" thoughts, or do they somehow spontaneously arrive in your mind? Do you have to use language to think?

Thinking about thinking can sometimes feel like searching for an image lost in two opposite mirrors. Humans use language for communication. However, is language a must for thought itself? It is quite likely that language is an acquired skill, not something everyone automatically will learn after birth. For example, babies cannot "see" when they are born until their brain interprets the blur of visual images and converts them into human sight. Likewise, humans could just be interpreting thought in the form of language. If this is the case, language is not necessary to think.

Multilingual people have been known to have different forms of thought in different languages. Personally, the language I think in depends on the environment I am in, the people or objects that I am thinking about, the smells in the air and even the food I am eating. My father can only do mathematics in one language; when he tries to calculate in English he cannot go as quickly. If these outside factors affect part of my thinking, my father's choice of language affects his mathematical ability, then the concept of language being only a medium to express thought becomes even more realistic.

As technology changes, who is to say that we will not invent a new "media" of interpreting thought? Currently, humans are restricted to communicating by speaking and physical gestures. If it was possible to exchange and receive thoughts directly, then theoretically, there would be no need for language, since the only purpose it serves is an efficient way to communicate. ?


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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