Nevin_III

What language do you think in?

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This post is more a question than an informal text. Have you ever thought about thinking, or how your thought is translated for individual reason? Do you translate your thought in the language you know? For example, someone born in Russia will think in Russian, while someone born in Japan will think in Japanese. Is this just a coincidence with no meaning beyond communication form, or are we limited to the concepts of individual thought in relation? I also would like to know if anyone multilingual thinks in multiple languages or if they only use their non-dominant language when the concept to apply it is thought in their native language. I find the thought of the time before humans had a devolved language fascinating because before any developed language what language did humans think in, and how could they have reason thinking purely as an individual. Beyond that what language do animals think in, the sounds they understand and make? Or is it with the timing before translation? Does anyone know anything about this?

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I was born in Germany, but I think and dream mostly in English, having spent all of my adult life in other countries. It is only for specific purposes that I slip back into German - reason being that German has a much larger vocabulary, so sometimes it is easier to express subtle nuances in a language that has separate words for them. On very rare occasions I would also use other languages such as Chinese or Pāli, on account of them having words for concepts that do not exist in the European languages.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Nevin_III said:

For example, someone born in Russia will think in Russian, while someone born in Japan will think in Japanese.

That's very large simplification.. Russia/USSR, is not single-nation country..

According to census from 2010, there is 77.7% (other source mention 80.9%) of Russians in Russia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_groups_in_Russia

Preliminary language is usually the one which parents used in home and learned their children. Whether adult people think in their preliminary language is very subjective question. You would have to create worldwide poll to get large quantity of answers from the entire world, to get senseful amount of data for analysis.

Edited by Sensei

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Thanks for the reply Markus, So as an individual your dominant language isn't your first learned but the one that applies as current communication dominant, but you have the ability to change your thought translation with the concept of thought that the application of a different translation better applies or can be easier communicated. That is pretty awesome, I have one more question, before you switch your language of thought translation do you first think in your current dominant language to switch for reason, or can you just fluently in sequence switch between them?

Fair enough sensei what you stated is fact, although that fact is completely irrelevant to the post. A question of individual thought translation can be answered by an individual.

19 minutes ago, Sensei said:

That's very large simplification.. Russia/USSR, is not single-nation country..

According to census from 2010, there is 77.7% (other source mention 80.9%) of Russians in Russia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_groups_in_Russia

Preliminary language is usually the one which parents used in home and learned their children. Whether adult people think in their preliminary language is very subjective question. You would have to create worldwide poll to get large quantity of answers from the entire world, to get senseful amount of data for analysis.

 

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1 hour ago, Nevin_III said:

I also would like to know if anyone multilingual thinks in multiple languages or if they only use their non-dominant language when the concept to apply it is thought in their native language. I find the thought of the time before humans had a devolved language fascinating because before any developed language what language did humans think in, and how could they have reason thinking purely as an individual. Beyond that what language do animals think in, the sounds they understand and make? Or is it with the timing before translation? Does anyone know anything about this?

I am pretty sure that there are studies on multi-linguals out there. I vaguely remember there being publications discussing whether multilingualism delays milestones in language acquisition, for example.

I am pretty sure that much of it depends on fluency in the respective languages and active usage. Personally, I tend to think in the language that I used most recently, for a given context. Science-related stuff  (i.e. job) is typically all English for me, for example. But there can also be mesh-ups as Markus described. I think you get an affinity for certain words and associated language that you use in certain contexts (or people you talk to or think about).

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Posted (edited)

I have spoken English for almost 50 years now.
Yet for some reason, I still do mental addition and multiplication in Italian.

Welcome back, Markus.

Edited by MigL

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1 hour ago, Sensei said:

That's very large simplification.. Russia/USSR, is not single-nation country..

According to census from 2010, there is 77.7% (other source mention 80.9%) of Russians in Russia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_groups_in_Russia

Preliminary language is usually the one which parents used in home and learned their children. Whether adult people think in their preliminary language is very subjective question. You would have to create worldwide poll to get large quantity of answers from the entire world, to get senseful amount of data for analysis.

Both of my parents were born to immigrants and grew up learning both English and Finnish (and likely some Finglish ) while growing up.  They are both gone now, and I never asked them, but it would have been interesting to know whether or not they thought in the language they were speaking at the time.  I do remember that Isaac Asimov once wrote that he grew up learning both English and Yiddish, and that he did think in whatever language he was thinking in.

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1 hour ago, MigL said:

Yet for some reason, I still do mental addition and multiplication in Italian.

That is an interesting point actually. I suspect you learned basic arithmetic in Italian, then?  When I am tired, I still default to German for numbers. While German was not my very first language I learned simple calculations initially in German. 

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1 minute ago, Severian said:

I personally think only in mathematics. 

Hey, I understood that. Am I maths now? Long time no see!

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Severian said:

I personally think only in mathematics. 

 

Quantum scientists should not see anymore 'delicious meal on the plate', instead just see bunch of CnH2nOn , CH3-[CH2]n-OH, CH3-[CH2]n-COOH, NH2-RCH-COOH, etc. etc... :)

 

 

Edited by Sensei

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Posted (edited)

For me it depends on where I am and for how log. If I spend 5 or 6 weeks speaking English only I definitely start thinking in English, I think it might be even after a week or 10 days or so. It changes back to my native language when I go back, I don’t even keep track of this, even writing this Im thinking in English but the next minute I’ll be thinking in the other language. I think.

Edited by koti

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4 hours ago, Sensei said:

That's very large simplification.. Russia/USSR, is not single-nation country..

Russia is not a single-nation country?

The USSR has not been around for almost 30 years.

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2 minutes ago, zapatos said:

Russia is not a single-nation country?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multinational_state#Russian_Federation

"Russian Federation

Russia has more than 160 ethnic groups and indigenous peoples. The largest population are the ethnic Russians, who are Slavs with Eastern Orthodox religious traditions, while the Tatars and Bashkirs are predominantly Muslim. Russia is also home to Buddhist populations, such as the nomadic Buryats and Kalmyks; the Shamanistic peoples of Siberia and the Far North; the Finno-Ugric peoples of the Russian Northwest and the Volga region; the Korean inhabitants of Sakhalin; and the peoples of the North Caucasus.[16]

Out of a total of more than 100 languages spoken in Russia, 27 have the status of official languages, the most widely spoken being Russian. More than 3 percent of the population speaks Tatar.[17]"

5 minutes ago, zapatos said:

The USSR has not been around for almost 30 years.

OP said "someone born in Russia".. Only people who born after 26 December 1991, really born in Russia, the all others (=the majority of population) born in USSR.

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In what (if any) language do you solve a Rubik's cube?

If you need a language to think in, how do you learn a first language?

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23 hours ago, Nevin_III said:

I have one more question, before you switch your language of thought translation do you first think in your current dominant language to switch for reason, or can you just fluently in sequence switch between them?

I can fluently switch without having to consciously think about it. I sometimes also mix languages, so I could have more than one language in a single thought.

I’m nonetheless aware of myself using different languages, mostly because I am also a synaesthetic, and the German/English languages have very different patterns, colours, textures, and general “feel” to them (for me). There’s no mistaking their differences.

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21 hours ago, Severian said:

I personally think only in mathematics. 

ah, the language of love... :P

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 The human ability to fluently switch between thought translation opens the door to a profound reality. If we think in our concepts of communication what is stopping us from creating a individualized power language of large concept groupings. We could reason faster and more efficiently, we could tie together patterns with concepts. Example, history has made great play to point out the social awkwardness of the great geniuses. Could these men have spent so much time working on calculus for reasoning that they started to think in it, and dream in it. In understanding that concept, could it be honed, could humans think in rapid sound succession if they tied concepts and these sounds together. It is my opinion that we mostly think in sound communication because sound is the sense most tied to time or timing, and thought is the translation of electrical timings or frequencies. Example of the time hierarchy of the sense of sound, echolocation of bats. Also, could language be the main difference in the intelligence levels of people in similar societies. Does accent, vague concept slang, or misunderstanding of word concepts effect the timing of thought. If this is so, society should put more effort into keeping individual language and the concepts of words clear. Something I know I can work on, as could everyone.

 

 

 

On ‎6‎/‎12‎/‎2018 at 1:56 AM, John Cuthber said:

In what (if any) language do you solve a Rubik's cube?

If you need a language to think in, how do you learn a first language?

I love this comment, really good John. That's something to really think about, but perhaps both can be answered by patterns. Patterns picked up by the language translation of your peers. I don't think the concept of a Rubik's Cube exists without the building blocks of thought translation through language, so solving it could mean anything to an individual. Nor do the concepts of your first language exist without thought translation through language, yet the fact you don't use known language for either can be kind of mind bending. The first language you know from birth is emotion for communication, perhaps pattern problem solving lies in the timing translation of emotion. This could make a little sense out of the first progression of early man, perhaps language progression was caused by the attempt to better communicate emotion feeling, thus causing a chain reaction of growing sound memory concepts shared from individual to individual and built upon. Or maybe pattern problem solving is an entirely different process. I don't think anyone has done research on it to this extent, so it is currently all speculation.

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