Friday, January 22, 2010

The "Thinking" Language

Language. I've read somewhere that your thinking is affected by your mastery in the language that you're thinking in. It kind of made sense to me and made me realized how important it is to master a language; though I'm still rather lazy to do that.

Okay, first, when you think, you must think in a language. Well, for concrete objects, one can have the image in your mind as a 'thought'. For example, I can picture a tree in my mind. But what about, let's say, love? We picture heart? But a heart is not love. How do you think love? But wait! Let's say you never knew the word "love". Would you even know what love is? Would you have been able to express it?

I believe that when we learn a new word, we not only learn its meaning, but we also expand our thinking capable. Every one has a 'thinking' language - probably the one we were brought up with. Ever tried thinking in another language? And I mean thinking and not talking. To think in another language, one must deliberately try not to think in the language you normally think in. It's sort of talking to yourself in another language. And it's weird. In fact, i have always thought in English all the time since before I can remember. Well, that's until I've deliberately tried this. Well, maybe sometimes when we write in another language, we do think in it, well a bit. But do you find yourself thinking in English and then translating it into BM before writing it down? Well, I do. All the time.

The thing is, when we think in a language we are not good at, we suddenly shrink in maturity. We just somehow can't think about the things we use to think without a second thought. In fact, I would say our intelligence would be significantly lowered. Thus, we can conclude that intelligence is just about learning new words. But that's probably a bit too far. I guess it's information and language that blends together to give you your intelligence. But that's just a theory.

Well, application tests to enter colleges and universities in US also support my point. What do they test on: Math and English. And studies show that if a person can do well in this two subjects, he/she somehow will most probably succeed in life. Math gives you reasoning and language thinking.

Well, all this is coming from a person who has only one main language. I wonder about people who have an equally good command on two languages, whether they can think comfortably in both or only just one. Food for thought.

Thoughts are much stronger than words. But unfortunately, we can only share thoughts through words because not all of our words are from our thoughts. We can't think a lie; we speak a lie. Thoughts give you the true personality of a person. Well, some people try to lie to themselves; but try as they might, their true thoughts come out eventually. But generally, we tell the truth in our thoughts; after all, who else knows about our thoughts except for us? (and God of course, but not any other human being)

So, building up your vocabulary, reading or anything that enables us understand our thinking language is no waste of time. It is in fact a life long investment that will enable you to mature and to think better. Remember when you tried thinking in an different language? Wasn't your thoughts so much more inferior to the thoughts when you were thinking normally (as in in you native thinking language)? Well, perhaps the language that we normally think in IS in fact ALSO much more inferior than what we are capable of thinking in. In other words: we might just be a like a boy on the shores with the whole sea to explore - in terms of our intelligence.

For me, my thoughts don't come to my mouth as fast as most people. And sometimes, I do wish that they would hurry up and enable me to speak when I want. Which is why I can't say what I really want to say. But though my mouth may have failed me, but my thoughts have not.


Anonymous said...
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natz said...

I have all sorts of valid and reasonable thoughts in English.

Every time I try to think in BM / Hokkien, it's invariably about food.

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