Re: Origin and function of language

p3voices (
Tue, 16 Jul 1996 22:41:29 -0400

Thomas Clarke wrote:
> For an entertaining version see Robert Heinlein's _Stranger in a Strange
> Land_ wherein a human who learns the Martian language aquires extraordinary
> powers over reality.

Dan Evens <> replied:
>Well, it's a bit more complicated than that. The language gave the symbols
>required to learn the discipline required to have the powers over reality.
>A bit like saying that learning the language of electronic engineering is
>one of the steps of becoming an electronic engineer, but that simply knowing
>the language does not give you the ability to construct a circuite chip.
>It's really quite different from certain mystic traditions where you only
>need to know the word or true name for a thing to have control over it.

P3 replies to Dan Evens:
I think Thomas Clarke has a good point there - from my own experience I think that
learning higher maths (which is a type of language in the sense that it shares many
similarities to language) certainly gave me a different way of thinking about things. I
also think learning computer programing at a young age (computer programs are clearly
written in a language which has a distinct"grammar" and system of organization and
interrelating) also changed my way of formulating thought constructs and organizing
arguments or solutions to problems unrelated to programming. I have discussed this
subject with others, who also have noticed this.

Musicians too work within a language of sorts. Exposure to this language (music) is said
to have a dramatic effect on their way of thinking, especially if this exposure is at a
young age!

Based on these observations, I think it is reasonable to speculate that the nature of the
language itself can affect (to some extent) the way we think, act and perhaps even behave.
I don't really know how powerful this influence would be compared to other environmental
effects. Maybe it's relatively minor - I don't know. Perhaps others could comment on this.