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Thinking without language?

Lee Sau Dan ~{ at nJX6X~} sdlee at faith.csis.hku.hk
Sat Nov 27 05:34:33 EST 1999

>>>>> "John" == John Turnbull <john at turnbull.org> writes:

    John> And people think differently because of the languages they
    John> know.  My experience has been that knowing one language one
    John> can express oneself fairly well.  When I used three
    John> languages on a daily basis I would sometimes need to switch
    John> languages mid-sentence to use a word in another language.

I also  switch languages  on-the-fly when I  talk with  my colleagues.
When talking to elderly people, I'll traslate everything into Chinese.
When talking to non-Chinese speaking people, I'll translate everything
into English.  However, when I think, I don't have to switch languages
--- I  think without words  and hence  independently of  any language.
The ideas  are there as  ideas in  my mind.  I  only need to  choose a
language when I want to say it out or write it down.

    >> Mind you again that there are often concepts that cannot (yet)
    >> be expressed in words in any known languages.

    John> I don't think so, and it's obviously pointless to ask for an
    John> example, as by your definition you can't express it.

Why did  physicists had  to coin  the new word  "quark" for  that very
concept?   Why did  physicits have  to  coin the  new term  "chromatic
charge" for those new concepts in quantum mechanics?

Explain to me how mathematicians think and develop the concepts before
the    words    "complex    number",   "differentiation",    "vector",
"integration", "tensor", "curl", "quarternion", etc. are coined.

    John> Do you really need to memorize the shape of a triangle?  Or
    John> is it just a word in the language of geometry?

No, it's  not a word, but  a CONCEPT.  A  concept in my mind  does not
require words to represent.  A concept  is a concept is a concept.  It
is independent  of words of  any lauguage.  I  only need words  when I
want to  communicate with others (reading other's  writing, writing my
own essays, talking/discussing).

BTW, how do you think deaf people think?

Lee Sau Dan                     $(0,X)wAV(B(Big5)                    ~{@nJX6X~}(HZ) 
| http://www.cs.hku.hk/~sdlee                      e-mail: sdlee at csis.hku.hk |

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