The relationship between language and thought

The relationship between language and thought

December 21, 2019 0 By Felso

Human; many topics and events, a novel read, a film watched, heard news and similar situations.

Thinking occurs at the same time as the act of language. Language is a symbolic system that both serves to think and is necessary to convey ideas to others. It differs from other symbolizations (such as mathematics, logic, cybernetics) that human natural ability is developed through a conscious and cultural activity. It also allows a common understanding and communication through the meaning of the symbols in the form of words.

In addition to expressing emotions and thoughts, language also enables the determination and development of current thinking. What is thought is shaped again and again under the influence of language. The development of language is also thought. As thought develops, new concepts and related meanings emerge, and language enriches this situation. This interaction between language and thought is an important element in human expression and productivity.

Thought gains meaning with concepts and man conveys his thoughts to other people through language. The idea expressed in language does not appear in the mind, but in its concrete form, which is an indicator of concepts. Other people try to understand what is thought through this concreteness. There may be a narrowing or deterioration of meaning in the thought conveyed during the use of language in semantic formatting and use. Errors in language can also cause errors in thinking. Misunderstanding of reasoning, use of concepts consciously or unconsciously outside the known meanings, deriving meaningless words and misconfiguration of sentences blur the meaning. Language as a speech act, the problems and knowledge of people, images, it includes activities to express or communicate emotions and designs through words (linguistic symbols) and sentences. However, philosophical discourse requires that the terms be defined and equipped with certain meanings.

Philosophers pay attention to logic and take care to use language correctly in putting forward their arguments. The ideas expressed in language can easily be rebutted because of the logical inconsistencies and meaning disorders. Philosophers skillfully use it to master the subtleties of language in the intellectual process and in their expression. In fact, if the concepts are insufficient in explaining their thoughts, they redefine the concepts or produce new concepts. Philosophers convey their thoughts in this way. Philosophy that questions thought and language gives the best examples of the relationship between language and thought in the texts of philosophers.


One way to understand the relationship between thought and language is to look at philosophical views and analyzes. Philosophy, which makes every field of human being an area of ​​research and investigation itself, also questions the language that deeply affects human life. The sub-branch of philosophy that deals with language is called language philosophy. The relationship between language and philosophy is based on the philosopher’s use of language to form and explain his or her own views. Philosophy is directly related to language as a conceptual activity of the philosopher.

Talking is an activity that people do to understand oneself and others. To agree, a common language and a consensus on the meaning of the words in that language are required. The use of different meanings to the words or terms used in the conversation makes the agreement impossible. Even if people who share different meanings with the same concepts talk to each other, agreement may not be achieved.

Edited by:  Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source:  Atatürk University Department of Sociology 1st Grade Giriş Introduction to Philosophy ”and Giriş Introduction to Sociology” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Other Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM), MEB Philosophy Textbook