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Language and thought

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Introduction Language and thought A linguistic definition of language is 'language shapes our ideas, thought processes and experience of the word' (shape means causally determines and delimits). There has been considerable interest in the question of the relationship between thought and language and the similarities and differences that exist in thinking between members of different language communities. One of the earliest attempts to provide a theoretical account of the relationship between language and thought was made by the behaviourists. John Watson, the founder of behaviourism, argued that thinking was nothing more than inner speech. It may be true that most people sometimes engage in inner speech when thinking about difficult problems. Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein argued that thought was purely linguistic and that the kinds of mental processes which animals or small children engaged in wasn't really thinking all. He claimed that 'the limits of my language mean the limits to my world,' by this he meant that we could only think about and understand the world through language, so that if our language does not possess certain ideas or concepts, then they cannot exist for us. ...read more.


But it is not only the vocabulary of a language that determines how and what people think and perceive but also the grammar. Therefore, people who speak different languages perceive the world in different ways. This provocative idea has caused considerable debate over the years. The relativity hypothesis has two forms, a strong one and a weak one. The strong form states that if a language does not contain a term for a particular concept, there will be no way for people to speaking that language to deal, cognitively with the concept and so people who only speak that language will not be able to deal with that concept at all. The weak form of the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis (in practice the more common one) retains the idea that the language used in a given culture shapes and directs the experiences and assumptions of that culture, but does not go so far to say that language determines them. Carmichael et al. Carmichael, Hogan and Walter (1932), conducted the most famous experiment said to prove the linguistic relativity hypothesis. ...read more.


as an alternative to theories of memory that postulated separate stages for sensory, working and long-term memory. According to the levels of processing framework, stimulus information is processed at multiple levels simultaneously depending upon its characteristics. Furthermore, the "deeper" the processing, the more that will be remembered. For example, information that involves strong visual images or many associations with existing knowledge will be processed at a deeper level. Similarly, information that is being attended to receives more processing than other stimuli/events. The theory also supports the finding that we remember things that are meaningful to us because this requires more processing than meaningless stimuli. Processing of information at different levels is unconscious and automatic unless we attend to that level. For example, we are normally not aware of the sensory properties of stimuli, or what we have in working memory, unless we are asked to specifically identify such information. This suggests that the mechanism of attention is an interruption in processing rather than a cognitive process in its own right. The aim of this study is to prove Carmichael's theory correct by which is investigating whether labels on ambiguous figures influence how the figures are drawn from memory. ...read more.

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