JUL 22, 2018 6:56 AM PDT

No language needed

If you don’t have language, how do you think? If you know fewer words, can you think fewer thoughts? Or perhaps less complex thoughts? That’s the phenomenon that George Orwell explores in his book 1984, which asks the question, “What impact does limiting a person’s language have on limiting a person’s ability to think?”

The complex relationship between language, culture, and thought is not yet understood, though scientists are certainly attempting to figure it out the science behind it all. One theory, proposed by the author of the book, The Language Instinct, Steven Pinker, suggests that we actually do not think in any defined linguistical language – rather a language of thought, which we then translate into English, or Spanish, or Swahili, or whatever languages we speak in. Based on this idea, it’s unlikely that just stripping away a person’s vocabulary inhibits them from actually thinking the thoughts or feelings the feels that happen all the time around us. What do you think about this? Watch the video to learn more!

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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