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Language Is the Scaffold of the Mind

A mind without language

A mind without language

It isn't easy to imagine our mind without language. We can't think, plan, or relate to other people if we lack words to structure our ideas.

Bertrand Russel stated that the task of language is to "make possible thoughts which could not exist without it."

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Language Is the Scaffold of the Mind

Language Is the Scaffold of the Mind

http://nautil.us/issue/76/language/language-is-the-scaffold-of-the-mind

nautil.us

5

Key Ideas

A mind without language

It isn't easy to imagine our mind without language. We can't think, plan, or relate to other people if we lack words to structure our ideas.

Bertrand Russel stated that the task of language is to "make possible thoughts which could not exist without it."

Language and acquiring information

Take language away, and the amount of information you can acquire decreases.

Many deaf children born into hearing families live in a world unable to communicate properly. They are never exposed to abstract ideas such as "justice" or "global warming." Unless the parents learn sign language, the child's language access will be delayed or missing entirely.

Non-linguistic limitations

The lack of language affects even functions like math. Keeping track of exact numbers above four requires knowing the words for these numbers. The language-number interdependency means many deaf children in industrialized societies fall behind in math because they did not learn to count.

Social cognition is another part of your mind that needs language to develop. Why is your mom upset? Understanding social situations requires inferring what people around you are thinking.

Adult individuals with aphasia

Language can disappear after severe damage to the brain. It is known as aphasia - the inability to understand or produce speech.

Research on adults with aphasia has demonstrated that math, theory of mind, and other cognitive abilities are independent from language. Patients with aphasia perform comparably to the rest of us when asked to complete arithmetic tasks, reason about people's intentions, determine physical causes of actions, or decide whether a drawing represents a real-life event. Some can continue with creative tasks.

Our language is a scaffold

In adults, language is separate from other functions of the brain.

Our language is but a scaffold for our minds. It is indispensable during the formative years but can be done away with once the building is in place.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Know your motivation

If you don’t have a good reason to learn a language, you are less likely to stay motivated over the long-run.

Once you’ve decided on a language, it’s crucial to commit.

Find a partner

Finding some kind of partner on your language adventure will push both of you to always try just a little bit harder and stay with it.

It’s a really great way of actually going about it. You have someone with whom you can speak, and that’s the idea behind learning a new language.

Talk to yourself

When you have no one else to speak to, there’s nothing wrong with talking to yourself in a foreign language.

This can keep new words and phrases fresh in your mind. It also helps build up your confidence for the next time you speak with someone.

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Listen

The more you expose yourself to the new language, the sooner you will become familiar with its sounds and structures. Familiarity, in turn, will speed understanding.

Copy

Repeating the sounds (out loud or in your head) will give you a feel for the language. Memorize not just words, but sentences and even songs to get the rhythm and intonation of the language. 

Read

Read words, sentences, children’s books, newspaper articles. Read as far and near as you can, whether out loud to an audience or quietly to yourself. 

Seeing the language in print helps you understand word structures. It also anchors the new sounds, and helps them get imprinted in your mind.

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Forgetting the First Language

While our brains are flexible and adaptable as children, we tend to start having more rigid learning and relearning skills as we grow old.

There have been some extreme cases when the mother t...

Trauma associated with a Language

One of the reasons for forgetting a language is the trauma associated with speaking a particular language: The mind recalls the bad experiences while the language is heard or spoken.

The Switch Mechanism

Once a person is able to speak two or more languages, the mind has to create a mechanism to switch between those seamlessly.

Switching a language is not like forgetting, but if there is too much back and forth, the competition starts between the two languages.

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