The connection between language and thought - Introduction to Linguistics

Communication of language and thinking

§ 6. Language as a social phenomenon, as the most important means of human communication in one way or another connected with other phenomena of a public nature. Special interest of scientists (primarily linguists and philosophers) raises the question of the relationship between language and thinking. Discussion of this problem, which did not leave the agenda throughout the development of scientific thought, has a long history. The connection between language and thinking was discussed in Ancient Greece, interested in the Middle Ages, has acquired a particular urgency in modern science.

Since ancient times, scientists have drawn attention to the close relationship between language and thinking. So, for example, the famous German philosopher of the XVIII century. Immanuel Kant wrote: "Every language is a designation of thoughts and, conversely, the best way to designate thoughts is to designate with the help of language, this greatest means of understanding oneself and others. To think is to speak to oneself. " At present, the existence of a connection between language and thought, their interrelation and interaction are recognized in a variety of linguistic and philosophical directions. At the same time, the problem of the connection of the phenomena under consideration seems to be one of the most complex and debatable in linguistics and philosophy, which is primarily due to the complexity of the phenomena of language and thought themselves, the contradictory nature of these phenomena, the laws of which have not been sufficiently studied.

Consideration of the relationship between language and thinking is advisable to begin with an explanation of the concept of thinking (a general idea of ​​the concept of language, its nature can be obtained from the previous sections). Usually thinking is an active process of reflecting objective reality in concepts, judgments, ideas, the ability of a person to think, reason, build conclusions, comparing thoughts and drawing conclusions from them. In the scientific literature, thinking is defined, for example, as a "generalized, mediated, conceptual reflection of reality" as a "product of highly organized matter, a thinking brain .., a subjective image of the objective world," the product of the activity of the central nervous system, the human brain, an ideal figurative form of reflection of the surrounding reality. "

In psychology, there are three types of thinking: practical (or technical, visual-efficient), figurative (otherwise - visually-figurative, sensual- visual images) and logical (otherwise - abstract, abstract, generalized, conceptual, theoretical, abstract-theoretical). The first two types of thinking are sometimes combined into one general type of visual thinking, within which two forms of thinking are distinguished - visual-effective and visually-figurative. The division of thinking into different types, or forms, "to some extent reflects the progress in the development of man and the stages in the formation of his thinking activity."

§ 7. The highest stage of development of people's thinking activity is logical, abstract, conceptual thinking. Logical thinking is carried out in logical forms - concepts and judgments, is based on strict observance of the rules of using concepts and constructing judgments. Concepts and judgments can be regarded as the basic units of logical thinking.

The concept is generated through generalization processes and reflects "important and essential properties ... things". It can be defined as "the thought of the general essential properties, relations and relations of objects and phenomena of objective reality", as a "form of thinking reflecting the general and essential attributes of objects and phenomena of reality (and among them necessarily specific) that singles out objects and phenomena as independent objects, acting in a special relation to other similar objects. " A more extensive explanation of the essence of the concept as a logical category, a unit of logical thinking, is given in works on logic, for example: The concept as a result of knowledge of an object is no longer a simple thought about the distinctive features of an object: the concept-result is a complex thought summarizing a long series of previous judgments and conclusions that characterize the essential aspects, attributes of the subject. The concept as a result of knowledge is a clot of numerous already gained knowledge about an object, compressed into one thought. "

By judgment in logic is meant the "thought in which something is asserted or denied about anything", the idea of ​​an object (or objects) in which by affirmation or denial is revealed one or another of its signs or relations between objects, "a form of thought in which one affirms or denies something about objects and phenomena, their properties, connections and relations, and which has the property of expressing either truth or falsehood." >

Judgment includes such elements as subject, predicate and bundle. The subject is knowledge of the subject of judgment; A predicate is a knowledge of what is affirmed or denied about an object; a link establishes that what is conceivable in a predicate is inherent or not inherent in the object of judgment ... & quot ;. Compare, for example: A cow is an animal; The sun is the source of light; The TV is not a luxury item. The bundle in the judgment may be missing, or, as it is customary to say, to be zero. Compare: All people are mortal; The leaves of the tree are green.

There is something in common between a proposition and a concept. This is evident from the fact that the same word "thought" is used as the supporting element in the definition of both. This similarity is emphasized by such definitions as, for example: "Judgment can be considered as an expanded concept, as the disclosure of its content ...".

Logical thinking, characteristic of all adults, is most evident in people of intellectual work, in their mental activities. Lower forms of thinking, i.e. thinking, practical and imaginative, according to the experts' assumption, is peculiar not only to people, but also to higher animals, for example, monkeys, dogs, cats, who have absolutely no logical thinking; while the level of development of such thinking in animals lags far behind people's thinking, completely incompatible with human thinking.

Scientists who stand on the positions of dialectical materialism, in resolving the question of the relationship between language and thinking, proceed from the recognition of the unity of these phenomena. In special studies, often reference is made to the statements of K. Marx and F. Engels that "the language is" the immediate reality of thought, "the language is a practical, ... real consciousness."

The connection between language and thinking is conditioned by the actual reality, the labor activity of people, without which the existence of neither language nor thinking is impossible, just as the latter are impossible in isolation from work. It is through thinking that the language is connected with the objective reality. According to K. Marx and F. Engels, "neither thoughts nor language form in themselves a special kingdom ... they are only manifestations of the real life."

§ 8. The connection between language and thinking scientists see in that language is an instrument of formation, a means of expression and communication of thought. It (this connection) consists primarily of the fact that the above basic thought categories, the units of thinking (concepts and judgments) are expressed by means of language, defined by linguistic units: concepts are expressed by separate words or word combinations, judgments by sentences. In the language there are no words, phrases or sentences that would not express any meaning, nor reflect thoughts, concepts, judgments. It is also difficult to imagine a thought in the form of a concept or a judgment that is not expressed by one or another unit of language. Special literature draws attention to the fact that "the main factor determining the formation of linguistic meanings is the reflection of objective reality in the process of cognitive activity of human thought having a logical character."

The correspondence between a word and a concept is that the word as the basic unit of language (we are talking about the words of significant, expressing real values) and the concept as one of the basic units of thinking "reflect the distinctive features of objects and phenomena of the objective world." Both units have a generalized character.

The similarity between sentence and proposition is that a sentence as a grammatically formed integral unit of language (speech) and judgment as a correlative unit of thought organizes thought in the form of affirmation or denial. The basic elements of the sentence and the judgments are also relevant: the subject and the subject, the predicate and the predicate. So, for example, in the judgment expressed by the sentence "The cow is an animal", the word and the concept of "cow" is subject (in the sentence) and subject (in judgment), and animal - respectively, a predicate and a predicate.

§ 9. Communication and the unity of language and thinking do not mean their identity; between them there are fundamental differences, each of these phenomena has its own specific features.

First of all, one should pay attention to the fact that the language is material, its units have a material expression, sound shell and are perceived by the senses, by ear, while thinking is ideal, thoughts do not have a material embodiment.

Language and thinking are fundamentally different in their functions, according to their purpose in people's lives. The main purpose of the language is expression and communication, the transmission of thought, while thinking serves as a source of new knowledge, their improvement and development, etc. According to VI Kodukhov's definition, the goal of thinking is to acquire new knowledge, to systematize it, whereas language only serves cognitive activity , helping to shape thoughts and consolidate knowledge, transfer them .

Language and thinking function and develop in completely different laws. In the world there are several thousand languages, and each of them has its own specific, specific laws, rules, etc. This means that language laws are of an individual nature. The laws of thinking, on the contrary, are universal, universal in character. According to scientists, the logical structure of thought is the same for all people in the world, regardless of the language they form and express their thoughts. If it were not, it would be impossible to have intellectual contact between peoples, translation of texts from one language to another.

Differences in the nature of the laws of language and thinking predetermine the fundamental structural differences between language and thinking, the presence of specific features of their structure, the construction of their units.

Language and thinking differ primarily in the number of units, their types, types, etc. The basic units of thinking, as already mentioned, are concept and narrowing. An important role in the structure of language is played by such types of units as sound (phoneme), morph (morpheme), word (lexeme), word combination (free and stable), sentence (simple and complex), etc. Some of the listed types of linguistic units , morphemes) do not have correspondences among units of thinking. The phonemes are not directly related to the thought content at all, the morphemes correspond only to individual aspects in the content of those undivided mental units that are expressed by word forms; in other words, with a morpheme, a special form of merging reflection of facts of objective reality is conjoined, excluding the appearance in the thought of a separate segment of the thought process (segment). "

In addition, there are significant differences between the basic units of thought, on the one hand, and directly correlated with their linguistic units - on the other, ie, between concept and word, between proposition and proposition.

Speaking about the relationship between a concept and a word, one should pay attention to the fact that not all words are able to express concepts, although each concept is necessarily expressed by a word or a combination of words, a word combination. Not correlative with the concept, for example, such categories of words as service words (prepositions, conjunctions, particles), interjections, introductory (modal) words, proper names.

There is no complete correlation between the concept and the word and in the sense that, on the one hand, the same concept can be expressed in different words (synonyms), for example: nouns linguistics, linguistics, linguistics, glottology

denote the same science; adjectives red, scarlet, crimson, rddy, bum and others - the same color; verbs do, manufacture, produce and others - the same action; etc. On the other hand, the same word (multi-valued, polysemantic) is able to express different concepts, for example the noun table correlates with such concepts: a known piece of furniture; this object together with the food items put on it; food, food; The institution or department in the institution engaged in certain clerical did; prince's throne (in Ancient Rus), etc. In the United States language, as well as in many others, polysemantic words prevail. This means that in most cases concepts are not related to words, but to their individual lexical meanings.

Between the concept and meaning of a word, too, there is not always a direct correlation. The point is that the core of the lexical meaning of the word (the so-called denotative, or conceptual, meaning) correlates with the concept, and in the meanings of many words, besides the nucleus, there can also be a periphery, i.e. different additional semantic or evaluative elements (so-called connotative meanings, or connotations) - emotional, expressive, stylistic. Compare, for example: a horse is a nag, fear - horror, excellent - wonderful, small - miserable, become - sleep .

Judgment and proposal in many cases differ in their structure. As already noted, the main elements of the judgment are the subject and the predicate, to which the subject and the predicate, called the main members of the sentence, correspond in the sentence, and one of these members may be absent (in single-member sentences). However, in addition to the above-mentioned basic elements-the main members-there can be secondary members as well as introductory words that do not have correlative elements in the structure of the proposition. In other words, the proposition is always two-fold, while the sentence can be not only two-termed, but also monomial and polynomial.

The main terms of the sentence (subject and predicate) are also not always in direct correlation with the corresponding elements of judgment (subject and predicate). For example, in the sentence The glass is broken the noun glass appears in the role of the subject, and in the role of the predicate - the verb is broken. In a similar judgment, the predicate may be both a verb and a noun, if the object of the judgment is the "thing that crashed"; In this case, the noun is distinguished by accent or stress and statement in the second place in the utterance, i.e. after the verb: a glass broke .

Suggestions differ not only structurally, but also on other grounds, in particular, on the purpose of the utterance. On this basis, as is known, sentences are divided into narrative, interrogative and motivating. With the traditional understanding of judgment as a thought containing a statement or a negation of something, only narrative sentences relate to judgments; interrogative and incentive propositions of judgments do not express, since they express neither statements nor negations of anything.

Language and thinking, despite the existence of close ties and relationships between them, are relatively independent phenomena. Each of them functions and develops according to its own laws. At the same time, they interact, condition each other. Thinking as an ideal phenomenon requires the expression of its categories of material embodiment, language forms of expression, the latter in turn promote the realization of thinking, its development and improvement. This is the effect of the basic law of dialectics - the law on the unity and struggle of opposites.

§ 10. The question of the role played by language and thinking in the process of their interaction remains controversial, debatable. Some scientists lead, the determining role is assigned to the language, others to thinking.

Some Western scholars, for example the German linguist W. Humboldt, as well as his followers, such as the American linguist E. Sapir and others, argue that the leading role in this process belongs to language, what language determines thinking. According to W. Humboldt, "language is the organ that forms the thought." Hence the conclusion is drawn that the nature and results of cognition of the objective world depend on the language, on what language people speak. In other words, the universal, universal human character of the laws of thinking, of people's thinking activity is denied, which can hardly be accepted.

In the Soviet linguistics in the Soviet era was spread a different, opposite opinion on this issue. Soviet scientists argued that the leading, dominant role in the interaction of language and thought belongs to the latter, that although language is a relatively independent phenomenon, the main factor determining the formation of linguistic meanings is the reflection of objective reality in the process of cognitive activity of human thought having a logical character & quot ;. In support of this provision, specific facts are given.

It is known, for example, that a language that has spread to another territory with other natural and social conditions of people undergoes significant changes, primarily in vocabulary, in lexical semantics: the lexical meanings of many words are brought in line with the new realities , with which carriers of the given language meet. However, this does not have a significant effect on the results of the cognitive activity of human thought. So it was, for example, with the Spanish language, which became widespread in the American continent.

Supporters of the concept of the leading role of thinking in its relationship with language recognize the language as an independent phenomenon and at the same time emphasize its influence on thinking: "Language does have a certain influence on the thinking and cognitive activity of a person. First, language provides the very possibility of a specifically human, i.e. abstract, generalized thinking and cognition. Secondly, in the language to some extent the results of the previous stages of cognition of reality are fixed ... It is obvious that the previous level of cognition of reality, fixed to a certain extent in the language, can not but exert a certain influence on the subsequent stages of the cognitive activity of man, approach of the knowing subject to the objects of reality ... & quot ;. In support of this thought, this fact is given. There are languages ​​with a specific account, such as Nivkh, some Indian, languages ​​of Oceania. In such languages, when counting different objects (long, round objects, people, etc.), different numerals are used, which denote not only the number of objects, but also some of their signs. It is assumed that such numerals, arising from combinations of words denoting numbers and counting objects, can not but influence the character of quantitative representations of people speaking the appropriate languages.

Taking into account the above judgments, one can agree with the following definition of the relationship between language and thinking: "Thinking and language speak to each other as content and form. Thinking in this unity is content, and language is a form that exerts an opposite active influence on its content. "

§ 11. Recognizing the role of language in the process of thinking as an indisputable fact, scientists differently decide whether language is the only means of expressing thought, whether thinking is always performed by means of language, or whether it is possible without language means.

Many scientists, both domestic and foreign, adhere to the view that "human thinking is only done on the basis of language and in the language." another form can not be realized, because the abstract concepts that underlie human thinking can only be expressed by the words & quot ;. Another V. Humboldt argued that people's thinking is always connected with the sounds of language. This was drawn to the attention of the German philosopher G. V. F. Hegel: "Words become ... a cash being, a lively thought. This existence for our thoughts is absolutely necessary. We know about our thoughts only when we have certain, effective thoughts when we give them the form of objectivity, difference from our inner being , therefore, the appearance , and besides this appearance, which at the same time bears the stamp of the highest internal . Such an inner higher is only the articulate sound, the word .

Some linguists who adhere to this point of view, i.e. denying the possibility of thinking without the participation of language, pay attention to the fact that language is the only means of only logical, conceptual, abstract thinking. According to VA Zvegintsev, for example, "only the conceptual form of thinking ... proceeds in linguistic forms", and the practical and figurative thinking of a person is realized without the participation of language, "in extralinguistic forms". Other scholars argue that for people the language is a means and tool of all kinds of thinking , that the "position of the inseparable connection of language and thought refers not only to theoretical, cognitive thinking, but also to practical and visually-figurative, since they too operate with logical concepts and reflect with the help of abstraction the really existing common in objects and phenomena. "

Along with the considered point of view, there is another, according to which the thinking of people (regardless of one or another of its types, ie including logical thinking) can be carried out and out of communication with the language. Some scientists the idea of ​​the obligatory participation of language (speech) in the process of thinking is called prejudice. In support of the concept of the possibility of thinking without the participation of the language, quite convincing arguments are presented, at first glance, one of which is the thinking of the deaf and dumb: "The deaf, of course, think, although their thought is not clothed in verbal forms peculiar to people using the sound language . This means that the connection between language and thinking is not necessarily through "sound" words. "

Another argument that scientists use to substantiate the concept of extralinguistic thinking is an internal, or wordless, speech, which means thinking, reasoning without pronouncing words, "to oneself." Inner speech is carried out, for example, in those cases when some difficult task is being solved; the absence of sound speech helps to focus better and this in many ways contributes to the solution of the problem. Inner speech is possible during sleep, when the human body, including speech organs, is at rest; it manifests itself in dreams.

In support of the theory of the possibility of extra-linguistic thinking, sometimes the fact of using the "various systems of scientific and scientific-technical signs," which in this case are regarded as extralinguistic sign systems, is cited.

Speaking about the specifics of the thinking of the deaf and dumb (speechless) speech of any person, many scientists nevertheless tend to link them with the language, with the language means of expression of thought. It is widely believed that these types of thinking are based on language, are built on the basis of linguistic means. Thus, for example, attention is drawn to the fact that the "mental activity of deaf-mutes" is the result of learning from people who fully speak "that the tongue of deaf-mutes is a derivative of the language of the deaf, in which they live." The inner speech is evaluated in a similar way: "The truncated, reduced, predicative and virtually non-verbal character of inner speech does not at all mean that thinking is carried out in extralinguistic forms. Language creates a basis for thinking in the forms of inner speech by its other sides, the same ones that we find in the thinking of deaf-mutes: structural relations and types of the division of their elements, forms, schemes of constructing speech. " Such thoughts are expressed by many scientists.

The connection between wordless thinking, or inner speech, with language is manifested in the fact that inner speech is often accompanied by "rudimentary movements of the organs of speech" that during an inner speech the individual feels that weakened "hidden" articulation that he himself does not produces "that in the reduced inner speech" contains ... subtle hints of them (ie, words - V. N .), expressed in some elements of articulation, to-rye become carriers of general meaning & quot ;. This is especially true for the inner speech of children who, when solving difficult problems, help themselves with the movements of the lips and the tongue. " Of course, this happens in adults. In this respect, IM Sechenov's recognition is curious: "At least I know for myself that my thought is very often accompanied by a mute conversation, closed and immobile. movements of the muscles of the tongue and oral cavity. In all cases, when I want to fix a thought primarily in front of others, I certainly supersede it. " According to some researchers, movements of human speech organs during internal speech are recorded with special instruments. No less convincing proof of the connection between the inner speech of a person and a verbal language is that "concentrated silent thought in its difficult links is often supplemented by the utterance of the words". " Sound words are often pronounced during dreams. As an example, we can cite the case of the loud utterance of the phrase "Pauline, he [the plane] will not take off!" actor in the role of a teacher who fell asleep during the lesson, in the feature film "Big Change".

While giving an overall assessment of the problem at the present level of knowledge, one can agree with this opinion: "Obviously, the obligatory expression of thought in the form of a natural human language can not be finally proven to be proven, nor can it be proven otherwise."

thematic pictures

Also We Can Offer!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.

How to ...

We made your life easier with putting together a big number of articles and guidelines on how to plan and write different types of assignments (Essay, Research Paper, Dissertation etc)