How does the language in which we think change?

I think we have to be really careful to distinguish something that is mapped nearly 1-to-1 with thought, with something that thought could not exist without. Of course, I don't deny that many (not all) people's thoughts seem to be immediately accompanied by language, but that in and of itself does not rule out that language is just tagging alongside thought, rather than driving it.

To make that distinction, we really have to seriously consider cases where we are thinking new thoughts that we haven't expressed before. Or cases where we use language in the wrong way and have to re-express ourselves. Or even cases like animals who seem to be able to have at least some level of thought without language. I can't help but feel drawn to the inevitable conclusion that language comes after thought, not before it.

/r/askscience Thread Parent