Saturday, July 30, 2005

Thinking Language

Some of us think aloud, other think in silence.
Either way there is a inner narrative in our mind that is debating our thoughts and mediating our views. It makes a proposition and counters it almost instantly. Ideas seem to float through and fade out and a battle of sorts ensues of which one impression is proclaimed victor.
All the intricate details of this is the subject of much curiosity and study.

What interests me most is the language in which this narrative takes place.
Most Lebanese are bi- or trilingual and yet our thoughts must choose one over the others.
Of the 15 visitors who voted in my poll, 9 (60%) claim that their thoughts are in English and only 3 (20%) in Arabic, our mother tongue.

What does this imply?
Is English superior to other languages when it comes to utility of debate and reasoning?
Is it the structure of the English language or its vocabulary that merits this preference?

I know my little poll is neither representative nor statistically significant. But if there ever was a society where such a study should be done, it should be Lebanon.

Funding anyone?


Blogger Fouad said...

You didn't mention in which language were your thoughts Ramzi. Are you bi or trilingual, which language do you use most often in your everyday life, and does the nature of the subject you're thinking about affect your -I'm assuming unconscious- choice of a thinking tongue?

9:32 PM, July 30, 2005  
Blogger La La said...

I used to ask my parents if they thought in English, Arabic, or French. They said it depended where they were, in Lebanon either Arabic or French but here they think in English.

Personally, I noticed that when I'm in Spain I start thinking in spanish. So for me, it's dependent on my surroundings.

I love the idea of this post. I used to think about this a lot!

11:29 PM, July 30, 2005  
Blogger Tempest said...

Once i was in China, and I started thinking in Chinese. Then I realised that I didn't speak Chinese, and hilarity ensued.

Seriously, though, I'm tri-lingual (coming up on four) and I think in English, have done so for years. I find it a more logical language to formulate ideas. (apart from the fact that it's more scientific, more expressive, and more practical)...

That said, I always translate my cuss words from Lebanese, we RULE that area of linguistics.

3:40 PM, July 31, 2005  
Blogger Delirious said...

Haha! I'm the one who chose the "other" language in your poll because I didn't know how else to express the fact that I think in three languages all at once :D

Me being a translator and all, I could go on and on til tomorrow about this issue, give you names of people behind very interesting theories concerning bilingualism, trilingualism and the like...(such as Vinay and Darbelnet)

But, since I don't want to seem too pedantic, and I don't want my guilty conscience to remind me of that horrific thesis I was supposed to have finished by now and that will go down in history as one of the major unachieved works... I'll stop here :)

6:55 PM, July 31, 2005  
Blogger Ramzi said...

Thanks for taking the poll friends, give me your thoughts with the new one.


Schooling done abroad, so sadly I'm only bilingual. English is the only language I can use to reason or to express a complex idea. Arabic for me is reserved for casual conversation and some idle thought. And you?


It's curious that you're language of choice varies with your surroundings. I don't know what to make of this honestly :)


I completely agree. And Lebanese is totally versatile for vulgarity and humor. Try translating a Lebanese joke into English and you'll get whacked.


Lets not get pedantic, but maybe you can ease your guilt and email me with some excerpts?

1:11 AM, August 01, 2005  
Blogger La La said...

Ramzi - I force myself to do it! :)

9:37 AM, August 02, 2005  
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2:30 PM, November 28, 2009  

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