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TOK essay Does thought control language or does language control thought

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Does thought control language or does language control thought? Language can be thought of as a symbol system, engaged in representing the world, capturing and communicating thought and experience. One of the many definitions of the word "language" we can find in any dictionary. However every person may have thought of a similar definition but it is rarely identical to what other people would think of. There is an immense variety of words that when put together in a structured sentences construct a context that we understand and communicate with. Furthermore when combining words together the context may vary depending on the words themselves. ...read more.


If there are no rules to language we may not easily differ some situations e.g. I kicked the ball - rules tell us that I am the kicker and the ball is the receiver. Word order, grammar, etc. could change the meaning. Language has to be intended, creative and open minded to ensure that we have the freedom of expressing ourselves fully and in great detail. In our everyday lives we communicate with each other mainly trough language in its two basic forms, written and spoken. This shapes us in many ways to think differently from each other because of the variety of words we have to express a single thought and explain ourselves fully and in great detail. ...read more.


Some bilingual Japanese women in America were interviewed twice - once in English and then again in Japanese. They were asked exactly the same questions each time. Here are two examples where the same woman seemed to change her mind: When my wishes conflict with my family's... ...it is a time of great unhappiness. (Japanese) ...I do what I want. (English) Real friends should... ...help each other. (Japanese) ...be very frank. (English) This implies that the restrictions we confront with every day in our language have their strong impact on how we think, act and live our lives among the society we everyday interfere with and obtain knowledge from to shape ourselves on the way to becoming a piece of the jigsaw called civilization. ...read more.

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