Thought and Word vs. Language and Thought

Commonly, we know thought by the meaning of an idea which is produced by mental activity. It can be a plan, a concept, an opinion, or anything else that we think of. A language additionally is a system of communication or one place’s/group of people’s speech. Moreover, word is a meaningful unit of language sounds or an utterance. We know all this basic meaning of these words through the dictionary.

Here we are about to compare ‘Thought & Word’ defined and elaborated by Vygotsky and ‘Language & Thought’ by Langer. Why we have defined first the meaning of these words is that they are our sole subject in this matter. Vygotsky defined thought as one unit, basis of speech (that is it came first before words that it represents or that we think of it first before we utter something), created through motivation, can be a source of motivation, gives life to words and realizes itself in word (that is looking at how will it affect people when you put that thought into word).

Word on the other hand was defined as a verbal representation of thought, no life without thought, and dependent upon the thought. Vygotsky also said that there is an invisible bridge between thought and word that is in some cases like the literacy of a person. If one person is illiterate, he is most likely to have serious difficulty in putting his thoughts into words because he is limited to it. Now that we know Vygotsky’s definition of thought & word let’s deal with Langer’s language & thought on the other hand.

If the other reading suggests that Language came before everything else, Langer’s definition about it is the opposite. Language she said came after the essence of naming things. Therefore, she means that Language was a product of everything else which we have felt the need of naming of. This shows that Langer is opposing to the notion that Language came before everything else. If thought is the basis of speech acdg to Vygotsky, then the basis of thought is Language said Langer because Language contains the symbols of thought.

Here, we can perceive again that Langer contradicts the same notion mentioned earlier. Langer tackled in her essay about sign and symbol. She differentiated the two as the sign being a given, obvious, deals with actual situations, instinctive and deals with though which Vygotsky also agreed upon that sign is connected more externally with thought, while symbol is distinct in every person’s interpretation and has different meanings depending on the things that surrounds it or depending on the context which it is used.

The need of expression triggers men to produce language that’s why it is said that it came after the essence of naming things. Because human are the highest class in animal kingdom, we know how to conceived things and by that I mean, we have the capacity to observe things, then contemplate about it, figure it out, react upon it, etc. Yet before a person reacts to certain situation, he must first contemplate on the situation being conceived then the product of that will be his expression.

Additionally, because of our reaction to the things that surrounds us, we tend to start a research which in turn leads to the production of new ideas/thoughts. Language doesn’t stand alone. The meaning that it carries is not just the only one meaning that it can contain. That meaning might be different in different use of context. Meanings of words can be dictated from culture, society, organizations, ethnicity, etc. The more different context the Language will be used, the more it can carry different meanings.