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Subject: Re: The influence of language on thought ( 37 of 58 )
Posted by Simon

Yes, I believe that poor language will only cause a problem when your description of a cow's innards needs to leave your mind.

Given some understanding of bovine anatomy you can visualise a cow's innards in your mind, you can imagine how it smells, hear the muffled whistle of air rushing into nearby lungs against the distant back beat of a pulsing heart. You can visualise packets of mulched grass snaking slowly through the intestinal system. Like me, you'd be wrong in detail (cows have two stomachs don't they?) but the imagery would be useful. You don't need to have words for any of this, provided that you have some way of internalising the details and you don't cross the "skull boundary".

It is at this point, when you need to pass on the information, when you need to stand on the rooftops and shout to the world, "Hey! I've got this great idea about cows' guts!", then the better your command of whatever language you choose, the better will be your description to others. The better your description, the easier your audience will find their own reconstruction of your thoughts in their own minds.

By way of another example, let's say you had to think about the probability of fitting a camel through the eye of a needle. How would you contruct this in your head?
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