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Thinking Through Language


Submitted By rianneokk
Words 1088
Pages 5
GE1132 Mind, brain and language 09.03.2015
Semester B 2014/2015
Rianne Okkema, 40070660

Mind, Brain and Language
Thinking through language (Bloom and Keil 2001)

My little nephew of two years old has begun talking in Frisian, the native language of people from the northern part of The Netherlands. For many people from this part of the country, Frisian and Dutch are their mother tongue because Dutch is the official language of The Netherlands. A lot of children, like my nephew, begin learning and speaking Dutch only when they enter school. In a couple of years my nephew will start his school life; will the change of knowing not one, but two languages in this young age change his way of thinking? According to Paul Bloom and Frank Keil it might. In their paper Thinking through language (2001) they look at several views and discuss the relation between language and thought, in particular, whether language influences thought. Some say language does not affect your thoughts while others do say that the language you learn has a profound influence on how you think.

At first Paul Bloom and Frank Keil make a distinction between theories of the claim language-affects-thought. The first distinction is about three positions. One can believe in language-general effects, in language-general and language-specific effect and one can believe in that neither of these effects exists. The second distinction is about the aspect of language that are said to matter, especially between words and syntax. Some scholars argue that the specific words that a language has, determines how our minds break reality into different chunks. Others propose that our thoughts coalesce into larger complexes through the way syntax puts words together. A third distinction concerns the assumed size of the effect of language. Language can be seen as having mild effects on some

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