Language and Thinking 

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Language and Thinking

This is a must read book by Stephen Gislason who simplifies complex issues and introduces new and sometimes surprising insights. Click the topics (left) to read from the book.

From the introduction. "Humans resemble other animals in their ability to communicate. Communications involve chemical senses, sounds, body language, and visual signals. Communication is all about community, sharing information, sending warning signals and fulfilling the needs of the group. Human languages combine many different expressions of communication in a complex manner. Ideas about written language tend to dominate scholarly investigations, but sounds and gestures have been more important in the evolution of communication systems. Speaking is a spontaneous feature of the brain, and all normal children will speak if they hear a language spoken; any language will do. Older infants imitate words they hear spoken and if adults engage them in conversation, will expand their vocabularies and start to make meaningful statements;

Words go with gestures Young children point with a pudgy index finger and say the name their pointer indicates. Pointing and naming remains an endearing characteristic for the rest of a human life. Babies follow the path of language evolution. Their progress is from the description of the immediate and concrete objects to making abstract statements about events; The first thing you do when you are learning a language is point and name. You invent nouns. Little tykes can get a lot accomplished with their pointing finger and a few nouns. Tourists in a foreign country revert to the two-year-old strategy of pointing, naming, using pantomime to replace the verbs they do not know;"

One of the most important and least recognized features of the human mind is selftalk. In adults, selftalk is described as "thinking" or “reflection.” Aristotle declared that thinking was “inner speech” and he defined the rules of logic, the proper methods of constructing relationships among statements. Selftalk is a continuous narrative feature of the mind. Through selftalk, language becomes a dominant feature of cognition. Narrative dominance enables some of the best cognitive abilities that humans display, but narrative dominance can also be disabling;

The recognition that selftalk is thought resolves tedious debates about the relationship of language to cognition. It is no longer necessary to argue that the structure and content of languages influence thinking. Language is thinking.

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The book Language and Thinking  has no pretensions to be a definitive treatise on linguistics and does not engage in arguments that are abundant in academic discourse. The author is Stephen Gislason.

Dr Gislason wrote: In this brief refection, I describe some basic truths about languages that are aspects of human nature most likely to endure. I feature storytelling and selftalk as the two most important features of the human use of language. I consider how languages fit in the larger scheme of intelligence and human interactions. Interesting challenges emerge when language is used to describe itself. Spoken language is an innate ability of humans that emerges in all human groups. Spoken language is the key to interaction among humans. There are several thousand languages in human groups that enhance group cohesion and at the same time separate groups that cannot communicate. I trace the evolution of sound communication from animals who have lived on earth for hundreds of millions of years to computer programming that uses condensed forms of cryptic languages that are received and expressed by electronic circuits.

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Print Books Read Topics Download
Human Nature
The Good Person
Pieces of the Puzzle
The Sound of Music
  Surviving Human Nature
  Language and Thinking
  I and Thou
Emotions and Feelings
  Neuroscience Notes
  Children and Family
  Intelligence and Learning
  Religion for 21st Century


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The Psychology, Neuroscience and Philosophy series was developed by Persona Digital Books. The books are copyright; all rights to reproduction by any means are reserved. We encourage readers to quote and paraphrase topics from Language and Thinking published online and expect proper citations to accompany all derivative writings. The author is Stephen Gislason  and the publisher is Persona Digital Books.