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Author Topic: How Language Shapes The Way We Think - and why we need to think about it.


Alcuin
Moderator
Posts: 1007
How Language Shapes The Way We Think - and why we need to think about it.
on: August 17, 2018, 14:32

I suppose this has nothing to do with atheism, but it has everything to do with fighting ignorance and understanding the world around us - so perhaps there's a connection.

Lera Boroditsky...

She said that language influences the way we think, but the way we think also influences language. For example, she says the aboriginal (Kruptaya?) people stay oriented because they don't have a word for left or right. They use compass headings. However, why did this system emerge in the first place? I met a man who claimed he always knew where North was. He simply grew up being aware of where the Sun and compass headings are. That suggests that the structure of language is determined by the collective thinking of the people who originally developed the language. I suggest languages develop and aren't created.

Lena Boroditsky didn't have long but there is so much more she could have mentioned. I wonder how the problems of places like Iraq are related to a comment I heard that a translator made. He said that Syriac and Arabic (the two main Iraqi languages) don't have a word that exactly translates the English "compromise". The words generally used have connotations or nuances that also imply some yielding, submission or weakness.

Then there is the question of an international language. Lena sounds sad that many languages are being lost. This reflects the common assumption: that a language dying out is a bad thing, not a good one. It is a loss of culture and knowledge. However, the first priority of language is communication and in this connected world we badly need everybody to speak the same language fluently and 'in the home'.

English seems to be becoming the worlds de facto international language, not Esperanto. The variations in pronunciation make it difficult to learn so we need it to become more phonetic.

People should be thinking about these things as humanity unites and learns to manage our unique and irreplaceable blue boat home. Remember Fermi's Paradox - we seem to be alone in the Universe. We need to look where we are going...



mikek
Neon
Posts: 10
Re: How Language Shapes The Way We Think - and why we need to think about it.
on: September 2, 2018, 18:49

Ironically I wonder if English is actually too nuanced and complex to be a proper lingua franca. A well educated English speaker through vocabulary and grammar can insult someone whilst appearing to do the opposite. Maybe this is possible in all languages.... but something else to be aware of in our quest for lossless communication.

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