In this essay I am going to discuss the matter of whether or not thought without language is possible, and if it is, to what extent.
To make the understanding of my arguments easier to follow, I have decided first to define the two main matters of my essay: “Thought,” and “Language.”
Thought is defined as: “a mental process which allows beings to model the world, and so to deal with it effectively according to their goals, plans, ends and desires. Words referring to similar concepts and processes include cognition, sentience, consciousness, idea, and imagination.”
Language is defined as: “a system, used to communicate, comprised of a set of symbols and a set of rules (or grammar) by which the manipulation of these symbols is governed. These symbols can be combined productively to convey new information, distinguishing languages from other forms of communication.”
This typical idea of thought and language are, however, often manipulated in order to support a point – there is nothing to say that these ideas are made wrong because of that.
There are two extreme positions concerning the relationship between language and thought, and these are commonly referred to as 'mould theories’ and 'cloak theories'.
The most well-known mould theory is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Wharf chose to study grammar rather than the previously-investigated vocabulary. His study was on the structure of the Hopi Indians of Arizona as opposed to that of the Standard Average European languages. He believed that the different cultures confirm the fact that their languages represent/envisage reality in different ways. Sapir claimed “language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication or reflection.” He believed that language defined a culture, and in this it was impossible for too different languages to represent the same social reality.
One of Sapir’s students, Whorf developed a theory of his own on the matter of language: the Whorfian perspective is...