I was interested in what I read in a study – conducted by Stanford University in California – that English speakers focus on the causes when telling a story, while Japanese and Spanish speakers focus on the event itself without paying attention to mentioning the actor or the cause. This reflects their general way of thinking and looking at matters and events, and the study links this difference to the influence of language logic on its speakers, as each language has its own logic and thinking approach.
The dialectic of the relationship between language, thought and thinking
There is a dialectical relationship between language and thinking that occupied interested people, researchers, philosophers and linguists, so they divided and debated. Two groups have emerged on this subject. The first says that thought is separated from language and the inability of language to encompass human thoughts, and another group says that they are connected because language is the tool of thinking and our means to it.
Descartes, Valéry, and others represent the first group, as they believe that human thinking does not calm down and does not stop, while it is possible for him to control his language, speech, and speech. Bergson expresses this meaning by saying, “Thought is subjective and individual, and language is objective and social.”
They also believe that language is the template for thinking, and people are often unable to express their thoughts in language, and their argument for this is that a person stops while talking or writing about a topic, searching for words that express what he wants and fulfill his purpose.
The German philosopher Karl Jaspers believes that “language forces the individual to follow one path, resulting in members of one society appearing to think in the same way.”
Bergson expressed this by saying, “Words are the graves of meanings,” while Hamilton says, “Words are the fortresses of meanings.” Those who hold this opinion, which says that language is unable to encompass ideas and is unable to fulfill the expression of feelings, go to confirm and support their idea by man resorting to various arts, such as music and drawing, to compensate for what language is unable to express. But the deeper question here is: Was the language really incapable, or were people unable to comprehend the treasures of the language with words and meanings to express what they think and feel? Isn’t language just a tool for expression and communication? So why do we attribute the deficit to it?
As for the second group, such as Hegel and Saussure, they say that language and thinking coexist, given that they are things acquired from the family and the surrounding environment as a result of living experiences and events since the early childhood years. When a child learns a new word, he connects it to its meaning mentally, and prepares himself to use it and repeat it in the appropriate situation, and thus it proceeds. Language goes hand in hand with thinking, and even precedes it verbally in the child’s mind during the stages of learning and recognizing words and concepts as signifiers and signifieds.
In this, Hegel says, “The word gives the idea its true and supreme existence.” Watson says, “We think with our language and speak with our thoughts.” Therefore, it seems very strange that language is unable to express ideas as long as its vessel and the mouth that speaks it are in our minds and our communication between us and ourselves is primarily the same. If a person feels unable to express an idea in his mind, this is evidence that the idea is still vague and cloudy within himself.
Abdul Salam Al-Masdi believes that “there is no knowledge that is not derived through the filter of language.” Language is the selection, selection, arrangement, and presentation of ideas. Hence the idea of the dominance of linguistic circulation over human thought, as the most common and widely used vocabulary and words prevail with which to think and express ideas, no matter how simple or profound they are.
Linguistic richness lies in the richness of thought and reason
Based on the above-mentioned information review, we can say: Language has different levels of discourse. It addresses the mind as read, and it addresses the mind and the sense of hearing and sight as spoken, and from here we turn to the discussion of style, as the speaker’s expressions, linguistic statements, and expressive style support what he utters and supports it positively or directs it. Negative trend. This language, which addresses the mind and senses, is considered symbolic, and it is undoubtedly biased and more influential than other language that is devoid of any circumstances or tributaries, because it is quicker to penetrate the subconscious mind of the addressee.
In reality, language is the template and tool for thinking, and asking about the priority between them is like asking about the priority of the egg and the chicken! Did a person think before he spoke, or did he speak and then think? What is the point of knowing that?
The language, including the symbols and expressions it contains, is linked to the prevailing patterns of thought in society, and from here we mention the Arabs’ eagerness and acquaintance to send their children to the desert and bear the difficulty of the situation and be patient with it, so that the children acquire the Arabic language, eloquent, frank, pure, and untainted by any blemish or symptom of mixing. In other nations, especially in the early childhood years in which the child acquires the language with which he will address himself, his surroundings, and his society. It was stated in biographical books that they were motivated to do so by “the purity of the air in the desert, the safety and moderation in its morals, the distance from the evils of civilization, and because the language of the desert is pure and authentic.”
This is an important indication that whoever masters a particular language masters the logic of its people and acquires the thinking patterns prevailing among them in his approach to matters and his trial of issues. Therefore, whoever masters more than one language has within himself more than one mind and more than one thinking methodology according to the number of languages he masters. It is said, “A new language means a new person.” Mastering languages means mastering their logic and thinking method, and the multiplicity of mastered languages necessarily requires expanding perceptions, broad horizons, and the ability to deal with different issues in broader and more comprehensive ways of thinking.
As long as language is the highest and most sublime means of expressing a person’s thoughts and providing his social connections with his surroundings and environment, his verbal abilities, linguistic richness, soundness of his style, and suitability to the requirements of the situation have a real impact on the abundance of his thought, the wisdom of his trials, and his balancing of the matters and issues around him, and they represent an essential supplement to the breadth of thought, broad horizons, and moderation. Balance and fairness in balancing matters, clarifying them, and dealing with them, and vice versa.
Chomsky says, “Language is an indicator of intelligence. It is a mirror of the mind and a means of expressing meanings, feelings, and understanding with others.” Harlock emphasizes that linguistic development in children is one of the basic aspects that is largely relied upon when measuring the child’s mental, emotional, psychological and social development, as the level of language proficiency indicates the degree of mental maturity.
As for the smoothness and sobriety of the linguistic style, it is the best proof of the soundness of the mind and a person’s ability to arrange, refine, and organize his thoughts, in order to present them in a way that is approachable, far-reaching, and profound in meaning. When Arab poetry was called the collection of the Arabs and their record throughout the ages, it did not mean the art of poetry merely as a linguistic craft and an innate declarative faculty. He did not mean by it only the news, events, and days that he preserved for us, but rather it is the record of ideas that were passed down through generations in a wonderful artistic linguistic form. Thought creates language and language nourishes thought.
Max Müller says, “Language and thought are like a single coin whose first side is thought and whose second side is language. If either side is corrupted, the coin is corrupted. Thought is to language what the soul is to the body.” Regarding mastering Arabic, it is said, “Whoever’s tongue is correct in Arabic, his mind is correct.”
Suspicion of modernity
In his book “The Formation of the Arab Mind,” Muhammad Abed Al-Jabri argues that the Arab person suffers from a linguistic crisis represented by the fact that he lives in two different linguistic worlds, the world of the colloquial language used in the streets and used in daily life, and the world of classical Arabic. The first is a rich language full of foreign and Arabized terms and words for expression. About urgent and contemporary life matters, but it is not suitable as a language for thought and culture, unlike classical Arabic, which is the language of thought and the sophisticated official language, but nevertheless it falls short of expressing many aspects of real life.
The truth is that his statement is a far exaggeration, as he believes that if we used classical Arabic to express our thoughts in daily life as a common language, we would remain silent about a lot because of our inability to express it in it. However, the matter is not addressed in this way or with these limited visions. If we were accustomed to using classical Arabic in our daily lives, many neglected and abandoned words would appear on our tongues, as a result of simplification and tendencies toward what is popular, well-known, and common among people in the language of the street, so to speak. A person is the product of his thought and his language. If his attention to one increases, the results of that will appear in the other. The food for thought appears clearly in the soundness and sophistication of the language.
As for the ability of colloquial slang to fulfill the expression of a person’s daily needs, its basis is habit, ease, and reliance on the familiar, and it is a pure reflection of a person’s upbringing and social environment. While classical Arabic puts intellectuals in an elevated linguistic position, colloquial language tends to relegate a person to the popular environment in which he grew up.
In summary: Whoever wants to take care of his thought and develop his mind, he must take care of his language, and whoever wants to expand his awareness and enrich his thought, he must think about acquiring new languages and mastering them as much as possible.