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Different Languages and Clear Thinking 
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Post Different Languages and Clear Thinking

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Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:56 pm
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Post Re: Different Languages and Clear Thinking
An excellent of "Gulf". Too bad this guy quit blogging -- he often had something interesting to say.


Mon Oct 21, 2013 5:43 pm
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PITA Bred
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I can see quite a few potential methodology problems with this line of investigation. Right off the bat, someone intelligent and motivated enough to learn a second language with reasonable fluency is a select individual, intellectually speaking. Then a lack of natal fluency means they will consider the exact meaning and context of each word much more carefully than in their true natal language, which is layered by a lifetime of nuance, subtlety and illogical use.

I was in grade school when I had a chuckling Japanese man tell the class the national flower of the US should be the carnation. (Work it out and see if you would have ever thought that as a native speaker of English.)

I don't think any of this necessarily supports the idea of a superior language; all other things being equal, being forced to strain your thoughts through the tight filter of a language acquired as an adult will produce some added clarity of thought.

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Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:09 am
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Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:59 am
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Jim--that's basically what the researchers think is happening; when you thinnk in a second language you think more slowly and carefully. Also references Kahneman's "Systems 1 and 2."

Bill--that's a very nice article/post. I had seen it some years back when I was web searching for Heinlein references. Forum readers may also enjoy his discussion of

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Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:09 am
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Heinlein Nexus
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The extensive earlier discussion - and I live for this kind of stuff - was about the efficiency of spoken language as related to communication speed, whereas here we are talking about the impact of language on speed of thinking. We're deep into Sapir-Whorf territory here.

I posit that thought takes place outside of language, but is almost inevitably rendered instantly into language by reflex, because without that rendition there is no communication. People without language experience thoughts - presumably - but how would ever know what they were, because how would they tell us what they were? This as far as I am concerned likely explains the phenomenon of infant amnesia, because how can children tell us about thoughts that were formed before they had language to express them with?

But nevertheless, I think that all thoughts have languageless precursors that inevitably flow at a much faster rate, and I believe that if one could train oneself to skip the rendition phase, much like reading without moving one's lips, only harder, then one could think much much faster. I used to try practising this when I was a teenager (probably not long after I read Gulf). I think this would eclipse any acceleration that might be realized through rendering thoughts into a different language.

I think that the pre-language thoughts occur in a form that is naturally unambiguous and completely precise, whereas the best vocabulary is not going to achieve a total match to those thoughts. This does suggest that the wider someone's vocabulary, the faster they could think in the conventional form, because they would spend less time hurting for the right words in the rendition phase. And it also suggests that someone with another language under their belt would be thinking faster, for the same reason - they have a wider lexicon to find le mot juste from. But the brass ring would be to execute chains of thought without engaging in the rendition phase at all. This is where I suspect a lot of creative acts are happening.


Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:37 pm
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Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:44 am
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Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:56 am
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David--about halfway through I began to suspect it was yours, however the IGS put your name at the very bottom of the page and not in larger print. IGS claims the copyright as well...seems they could have made the author who did the work a bit more prominent!

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Thu Oct 24, 2013 11:12 am
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Thu Oct 24, 2013 11:23 am
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