Language and Thinking
This is a must read book by Stephen Gislason who simplifies complex issues
and introduces new and sometimes surprising insights. Click the topics (left) to
read from the book.
From the introduction. "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
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
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 consciousness. Narrative dominance enables
some of the best cognitive abilities that humans display, but narrative
dominance can also be disabling;
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.
Read selected topics from the book listed on the left.
Dr. Gislason wrote: "In this brief reflection I describe some basic truths about languages that are aspects of human nature most likely to endure.
I feature storytelling and selftalk as the two most important features of the human use of language.
I consider how languages fit in the larger scheme of intelligence and human interactions.
Interesting challenges emerge when language is used to describe itself. Spoken
language is an innate ability of humans that emerges in all human groups. Spoken
language is the key to interaction among humans. There are several thousand
languages in human groups that enhance group cohesion and at the same time
separate groups that cannot communicate. I trace the evolution of sound
communication from animals who have lived on earth for hundreds of millions of
years to computer programming that uses condensed forms of cryptic languages
that are received and expressed by electronic circuits."
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Psychology, Neuroscience and Philosophy series was developed by Persona Digital
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The author is
Stephen Gislason and the
publisher is Persona Digital Books.