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Language and thought

A discussion of the peculiarities of languages and the differences between them.

Language and thought

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Sep 15, 2011 1:49 pm

From time to time I've heard it said that language influences thought, and that people raised in or accustomed to that language are constricted by its grammar and syntax to think in particular ways. Over many years, I have found only one book that is specific. Thorlief Boman's work Hebrew Thought Compared to Greek focuses on Biblical thought and usage. The biggest concept that stuck with me was that Hebrew words primarily arise from verb roots, so the focus is on action. For example, Exodus twice records God's directions to build the tabernacle, repeatedly using imperative verbs, but nowhere does it say what the tabernacle looked like. A Greek would most likely have described it visually. I can see that. Further, Old Testament Hebrew is terse: check out some of the middle proverbs in several translations to see how differently they can be translated. Does anyone know other works that focus on similar comparisons of two or more languages as related to thought?
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Postby Slava » Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:26 pm

Perry,

Did you see this response to your earlier post on the same subject?
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:42 pm

No, i did not. Thank you.
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Postby Slava » Sat Sep 17, 2011 9:41 pm

While it's not about world languages, you might be interested in checking out Lakoff's Metaphors We Live By. It's an interesting dive into how we use words and what the underlying meaning might be.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
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Postby Slava » Mon Sep 26, 2011 7:39 pm

Here is an article that may well give you some nice starting points. It's on 5 books about language and the mind.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Sep 26, 2011 8:59 pm

Thanks much. You've succeeded in doing in a few minutes what all the good courses in college did in a quarter. Namely, left me feeling there are at least a dozen books I should have read years ago. And the articke was an excellent start, which I intend to follow up on. Thanks again.
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Postby Slava » Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:20 pm

Glad to oblige, as that's part of what we're all here for. Good luck with your research. If I see anything else, I'll post it. If it's not a secret, let us know what comes of it all.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
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