In many ways, I think language makes us who we are. Where would we be without at least some form of language or communication?We talked in class yesterday about cognition and language and how language makes our cognitive processes unique from any other organism. But I’m still struggling to imagine cognition, specifically thinking, without language. Can we consciously think without a language?
Whenever I think, I think in words. Whether it’s an episodic, semantic, or working memory, it’s all words! For example, when I remember an event, I remember the location, who was there, and what I was doing, but my thoughts about all of these are in words. There is of course a visual component, but even still, while I’m picturing the location, I’m naming it too. How would I think without a language and some form of speech? Would my thoughts be the same?
I remember when I returned from my semester in France, I really struggled with English during the first few days. I was in such a routine of thinking and speaking in French that transitioning back to English was actually quite difficult. I remember that word placement was especially challenging and I would often mix up the order of adjectives and nouns, which is different in some situations in French. My thoughts were in French and were being translated in correctly into English gibberish.
I thought of this anecdote in class yesterday and it made me realize that it doesn’t matter what language our thoughts are in, we’re always thinking in a language. I can’t imagine my thoughts without a language. Can you?