The connection between language and thought is profound. The majority of our everyday life involves the use of language. We tell our ideas to others with language, we “read” their responses and understand their meanings with language, and very often, we “speak” internally to ourselves when we process this information and make logical conclusions. It seems that rational thinking unavoidably involves certain degree of the use of language. This connection seems so tight that, some linguists like Sapir and Whorf had to propose that thought is indeed utterly determined by language.
On the other hand, some linguists hold that language and thought are two separate and independent entities. The differences in the syntactic structure and the lexicons available in different languages, for example, cannot possibly determine the way these people think. Thus we have thought in the very first place, and then language came in as a tool for expressing our thought.
Still some others, not feeling contented with either version, proposed a third possibility, that language and thought are interdependent. “Language is a regular part of the process of thinking… It is not a question of one notion taking precedence over the other, but of both notions being essential.”
While the conclusion on this issue is not a simple this-or-that answer and cannot be easily drawn, this paper will nevertheless try to provide adequate evidences in linguistic and psycholinguistic studies and seek for a reasonable conclusion.
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