Every thought, every consideration, every observation, and every emotion is realized in our consciousness though the medium of language; without language, conscious human thought is impossible. In other words, without a language as a medium, none of our human experience could even exist.
The idea occurred to me prior to any kind of reading into the subject (later research found such references to this idea in such books as The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language by David Crystal) and I was struck at the realization of how deep the repercussions of a world without language would be. If such a catastrophe were to occur and all knowledge of language of any kind were to disappear from our race, I concluded, we would plummet instantly into an animalistic, prehistoric, and utterly instinctual state. Literally overnight our financial status, thoughts of loved ones, future plans (for the nest 10 minutes let alone the next 10 years), and our own well-being would revert to a level of importance no higher than eating and relieving oneself for the time being.
Let’s step back for a moment. Consider that every thought you think only becomes realized in your mind once you have given language to it: You look at these words and they have meaning because they are language; You consider what you will eat next and all you options are weighed in words that are inseparable from thought; The feeling of discomfort is brought to your conscious mind on the wings of language, the list goes on.
Without language there is nothing or everything is the same: The livingroom couch is no different than your mother than she is from your computer. Why? With language such things are distinguishable as “couch”, “mother”, and “computer”, but without language such things would merely appear consciously as “?????”, “?????”, and “?????”. In fact, a world without language would be as confusing and pointless as an entire paragraph written in the style of the example below:
“??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ???” – ?? ????
According to the above quotation, who or what is the subject and what were he/she/it/they doing? Also, what is the name speaker from whom such famous words were first quoted? Without language, such conscious thoughts are impossible.
Language corresponds immediately with experience and does not necessarily need to be spoken to be considered language. You can imagine nothing because you know that “nothing” does not mean “elephant” or “egg”. However, given no knowledge (i.e. no experience) you would not be able to imagine “nothing” let alone even vaguely comprehend the assigned task.
Consider this, picture in your mind the most memorable time in your life. Now, try to explain this time to me without using words while I stand inside an immovable soundproof box and you outside of it. For me to later recount what your most memorable story was would be hopeless…I would never even hear the command to recount the story.
I challenge you know, oh reader, to really consider a life without words. Communication would be impossible, personal experience would be fleeting and forgotten instantly, and our entire race would surely go extinct in a matter of a decade.
Please post your comments below~
Also, I HIGHLY recommend you listen to this podcast from Radiolab: Words