Dd303 “the Way We Speak Determines How We Think”. Critically Evaluate This Statement, Drawing on the Key Theories and Research That Describe the Relationship Between Language and Thought

2170 words 9 pages
Option 1





“The way we speak determines how we think”. Critically evaluate this statement, drawing on the key theories and research that describe the relationship between language and thought.









Language has traditionally been characterized by Philosophers as a cognitive tool used to freely externalize ones thoughts (Green, 2010 as cited in Kaye, 2010). The relationship between language, thought, culture and reality has occupied the minds of many for centuries. Early theorists argued that language and thought were two separate systems which “enter into an array of interconnected cognitive structures” (Chomsky, 1983). Extreme nativists and constructivists are key proponents of innateness and argued that knowledge and
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He also explains how new or complex concepts are developed (.i.e. ipad) by decomposition into their basic elemental components. From this, it would suggest that language develops from already pre-existing concepts or thoughts which would show the directional flow of influence to come from thought rather than speech.

Chomsky (2006) is also a staunch proponent for the nativist approach and offers complimentary ideas to Fodor’s (1983) theory on innateness. He argued that the syntax of language is innate and that a universal grammar underpins language. The theory suggested that linguistic ability manifests itself without being taught, and that there are properties that all natural human languages share (Chomsky, 2006). Exploration of this hypothesis focused on word order, structure and parameters. Universally the random order of words differs amongst cultures. For example in English we use subject-verb-object language compared with those in Japanese who use Subject-Object-Verb. Chomsky (2006) argued that although the mental grammar differs from language to language, the process by which certain sentences are perceived as correct while others are not is universal and independent of meaning. He also argued that language acquisition is obtained through an innate language acquisition device. His theory later evolved into principles and parameters theory and looked at the abstract rules applied when learning a language. One of the key

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