Have you realized that you think in a particular language?I know I do.
I 'think' in English and when I talk to myself aloud(yes, I do) its in English too,
with various accents thrown in for good measure.Well that's just me and my
various alter egos at my regular schizophrenic convention but I have always found it
curious if this applies for everyone.
The other day at a family get-together(in my case that would constitute
around 15 members normally) the noise levels suddenly went down
(probably the after effects of a heavy lunch),and I,the normally quiet
one(yes I'm a listener,not much of a talker) thought I should point it
out.Now I speak to my relatives in a mixture of English and Thamizh and
the words that spurted out by me then were "yain dhideernu oru quiet
descend aidthu?" (translation:why has a quiet descended here suddenly)..
and my cousin sister burst out laughing ->"did you really say what I
heard you say?" she asked amidst peals of laughter.Well I looked back
at what I said and realized that it sounded like a propah Englishman
and an Iyengar speaking
together but the catch is they're both the same person,me.Well at that
point the only phrase that ran thru' my mind to describe the lull was
the terms "quiet + descended.." and well honestly I don't think I would
have found any words(if at all) to convey the same thoughts in
thamizh.Anyone wanna take a shot?lemme know..
And if thinking in a language is funny enough for people with all senses in order,
I find myself wondering about impaired people.
Like for example someone born deaf and dumb,what thoughts would be
running through his head?I try and imagine symbols,visual metaphors but
i can't fathom how,because the moment I get a train of thought I know
that the words with their syllables pronounced properly(in whatever
langauge) and the syntax are running smoothly on their tracks.
I wonder how blind people who were born blind dream.Do they? If so what
kind of imagery do they see? What is the reference point for them?
Coming back to thinking in a language,what does a linguist think
in?Does it always have to be one's mother tongue?(I recall the
birbal-akbar story where birbal cleverly finds out a visiting
linguist's mother tongue).
What about us?On an average I would reckon that most educated Indians
would know at least 2 languages.Does the language of thought have to be
the one they talk in frequently with other people?Does it have to do
with the kind of books they read or the visual media they watch?I'm
sure its a mixed bunch but which one takes preference or rather,
dominance and why?hmmm…
Parting thoughts: If in the future we do have a
Terminator/Matrix scenario ,with machines (Artificial intelligence)
taking over the planet, what would they think in? binary ? ;)