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Thinking without language?

John Turnbull john at turnbull.org
Thu Nov 25 11:27:11 EST 1999

In article <7fogci7tlg.fsf at faith.csis.hku.hk>,
Lee Sau Dan 李守敦 <sdlee at faith.csis.hku.hk> wrote:
>>>>>> "John" == John Turnbull <john at turnbull.org> writes:

>    John> The verbal part of your mind is not idle.  It is generating
>    John> words with each thought.  

>Then, can you tell me in what language these words are?  I don't think
>in  any specific  language.  When  I think  visually, I'm  sure  it is
>language-less.  So, where are the words?

For me the words are in English.  I'm not fluent or practiced enough in
other languages to think in those languages.  I would think if you are
fluent in multiple languages then either all languages are present, or
you may have a dominant language.

It seems there are a few possibilities when you think visually, either
the verbal part of your mind is generating words while other parts of
you mind are generating images, and you are focused on the images, or
the verbal part might be working on something else entirely, it could
be taking a break, or maybe the images are a language unto themselves,
and the same part of the brain is using images as words.

>BTW, how do you define "word"?

A unit of language that conveys meaning.  That is just off the top of
my head, and I'm certainly open to suggestions.


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