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How human’s thought is

realized in language?
Plan of the lecture
1.The problem of the relationship between language
and thought in the history of linguistics.
2. Psycholinguistics as special interdicsipline
3. The hypothesis of brain modularity by N.
4. The theory of isomorphism between the structure
of genetic and natural language codes.
5. Speech zones.
6.The inner speech.
7. Stages of speech generating.
8. Different languages as different visions
of reality.
9. Language world model.
10. Groups of culturally marked lexics.
11. Metaphor as human’s cognitive device.
12. Internal form of the word.
The problem of the relationship
between language and thought
in the history of linguistics



• From full identification (logical trend) to

absolute negation of any connection
(psychological trend) between them
Psychological trend
in linguistics
• An important theoretical contribution to the
study of language and thought was made ​by
the representatives of the psychological
trend in linguistics (G. Steinthal, K. Buhler, O.
Potebnya), by W. von Humboldt,
neogumboldtianists (E. Sapir, B.L. Wharf),
representative of generative linguistics (N.
Chomsky), by works of psychologists who
were engaged into the study of correlation
between language and speech.
Heymann Steinthal, German philologist
and philosopher (1823-1889)
 Karl Ludwig Bühler (1879-1963).
German psychologist and linguist  
Edward Sapir (1884 – 1939) —
American linguist and ethnologist
Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897
Theory of speech activity

• In domestic science issues related to

language and thought were considered
within the theory of speech activity (A.
Luria, S. Rubinstein, A. Leontiev)

• At the present time wide range of issues

related to language and thinking are being
solved within special interdiscipline –
The subject of psycholinguistic
• In psycholinguistic researches nature of
language, its evolutionary and functional
mechanisms were considered in the closest
connection with the ontogenesis of human
languages in the context of genetics,
neuroscience, neuropsychology data.
• Traditional for psycholinguistic circle of
problems comprises speech production and
speech perception, study of child language,
speech disorders, mechanisms of memory, etc.
Roman Jacobson & T.
• The hypothesis of genetic
"programmising" of human speech
might be maintained by the theory
of isomorphism between the
structure of genetic code (DNA and
proteins which serve as the storage
and transfer of information) and
code of natural human language
Avram Noam Chomsky, born in
• “Syntactic Structures” (1957) provided to
be a turning point in 20-th century
• The conception of a generative grammar.
The difference between ‘surface’ and
‘deep’ levels of grammatical structure.
John is eager to please and
• John is easy to please
Competence & Performance
• Chomsky drew a fundamental
distinction between a person’s
knowledge of the rules of a
language (competence) and the
actual use of that language in
real situations (performance).
Linguistics as a mentalistic
• Chomsky’s proposals were intended to
discover the mental realities underlying
the way people use language:
competence is seen as an aspect of our
general psychological capacity.
• Linguistics was thus presented as a
mentalistic discipline
The hypothesis of brain modularity by N.
• One of the controversial issues of the today’s
psycholinguistics is the hypothesis of brain modularity,
formulated by the famous American linguist N.
Chomsky, according to which human brain probably
contains a special mechanism – module that is an
innate specific quality of human intelligence and is
responsible for language acquisition. Just this very
module, according to the views of the researcher,
appears to be the biological background thanks to
which baby easily learns language of the society where
he/she is being socialized.
Speech zones
• 2 Speech zones were discovered: Broca zone & Wernicke zone
• P. Broca zone is responsible for the speech generation
• C. Wernicke zone is responsible for the perception and
understanding of the speech.
• This is proved by numerous facts of the slurred speech -
• People with lesions in Broca's area understand language, but
have difficulties with speech producing. It is the so-called
motor aphasia. In patients with lesions in Wernicke's area
speech production is not broken, but they can not perceive and
reproduce the speech of the other people. This is so called
semantic aphasia.
Functional asymmetry of the
cerebral cortex of the human brain
• Two speech areas are located in the left hemisphere
of the human brain. Thus, the left hemisphere
appears to be dominent for the vast majority of
people.Thinking processes concentrated in the left
hemisphere might be defined as abstract,
analytical, objective.
The right hemisphere is responsible primarily for
visual perception of the world, its intellectual
activity is associated with imaginative, sensual,
intuitive, concrete, synthetic and subjective
The inner speech
• The process of converting thoughts
into words is realised in the inner
speech. Inner speech is the result of a
long evolution of language
consciousness. Observations over the
speech behaviour of the 3-5 years old
children (experiments conducted by L.
Vygotsky, J.Piaget) showed that inner
speech develops from the outer, so-
called self-centered, speech in the
early childhood
• Further on the interiorization of this
outer speech takes place: it becomes
reduced, turns into whisper and then –
fades away. This process marks the
formation of intellectual activity in the
growing child, the formation of an
abstract verbal thinking
Universal subject code
• Prominent psychologist M.I.
Zhinkin hypothesized the existence
of a universal subject code (USC)
in the human’s mind. According to
this conception, the basic
component of thinking – a
universal subject code – turns to
be a special language of
intelligence, which has mixed
verbal/non-verbal nature
USC characteristics
• It is realized as a set of prints of reality in
human consciousness (charts, images,
sensory impressions, symbols, words,
fragments of sentences, etc.). USC has
international character and forms basis
for understanding of any foreign
language, for translation from one
language to another, for transfer from the
oral speech to the written one, etc.
Process of speech generating
• Thus the process of speech
generating appears to be a sort of
transfer from nonverbal (schematic)
code to verbal code realized by
means of this or that national
Stages of speech generating

Based on the fundamental assumptions of the

theory of speech activity, the process of speech
generating in modern psycholinguistics is
represented by such stepping:
─ formulation of the motive of the speech act (Why,
for what reason I talk?)
─ passing to the content of the future verbal
utterance (not just "why" but "what" the speaker is
going to say). A complete (but fuzzy, diffuse)
semantic "picture" of the future utterance arises:
general semantics is already formed, but the
specific words and syntactic structures are still
─ inner content program begins to evolve within
the frames of certain national language.
Syntactic structure of the future locution
arises. "Internal" words (i.e.their semantic)
gradually take their syntactic positions;
 ─ grammatical structuring and morpheme
selection is taking place.
 ─ motor syllable program of the external
speech (dynamic articulation) is realized.
Language takes you in a prison
• According to linguistic conception
of an outstanding German scientist
of the 19th century W.von
Humboldt, any language creates a
certain model of the world for
those, who use it, as though
outlining round them a “magic
circle” of ethnically determined
representations and images.
• To exceed the bounds of this “circle” one
might only by study of another language,
“by entering into other circle”, i.e.
through penetration into the system of
world outlook embodied by the forms of
other language.
• Humboldt's ideas were revived in the 20th
century within the framework of linguistic
trend called neohumboldtianism (E.Sapir,
B. Whorf, L. Weisgerber).
The hypothesis of linguistic
• The principle of linguistic relativity holds that the
structure of a language affects its speakers' world
view or mode of cognition. Popularly known as
the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, the principle is often
defined to include two versions. The strong one
says that language determines thought, and that
linguistic categories limit and determine cognitive
categories, whereas the weak version says that
linguistic categories and usage
only influence thought and decisions
Different languages give
different visions of the reality
• Being captured by the language, a
person handles the things in a way
they are presented by language,
behaves in society like this is
prescribed by the language.
• ANY ethnic language turns out to be
in the closest contact to spiritual
activity of the person, with cultural
life of the ethnic community, whose
communicative needs it serves.
• Thus, the language (to be more exact, its
content) gives keys to the understanding
of ways nation thinks, how it perceives
the reality. Language discloses the
peculiar features of mentality of culture
bearers, gives a chance to look on the
world by the eyes of other people, to
comprehend how the bearers of other
language and culture feel and think
Language world model
as a main notion of modern linguistic
• Language world model is the certain
sight on the reality conveyed by
means of the certain language.
• It is a verbalized interpretation of
the environment and of ethnic
group itself presented in language
So what is the language substratum of
manifesting national specific features of
• It has been already proved that national and
cultural peculiarity finds its expression not
only on lexical, but also on phonetic,
morphological and syntactic levels of the
language structure.
• However, the vocabulary (lexical staff) of this
or that language doubtlessly remains the
leading substance for the expression of
mental language peculiarities of the certain
ethnic collective
Lexics substratum for manifesting
national specific features of mentality
• Reflection of reality through the prism of
culturally determined sensations and
images is presented in metaphors,
similes, symbols, etc.
• The research in this domaine
demonstrates universal and specific
features of national language world model
The first group (A) is formed by nomens denoting
specific, authentic for the acquired culture notions, it is

• Ukr. борщ [borsh]

• Rus. щи [shi]
• Pol. żurek

• Eng. crumpet

• Chin. nian gao

The second group (B) is represented by nomens denoting closely
connected notions though having DIFFERENT PROTOTYPES in
different countries & cultures

The third group (C) is formed by culturally determined
verbalized cultural concepts which bear information
about spiritual constants of ethnic mentality

• Russian cultural concepts:

ДУША (soul), ТОСКА (anguish, depression), ВОЛЯ
(freedom), УДАЛЬ, СУДЬБА (fate).
• Chinese cultural concepts:
XIN – heart, QI – internal vitality and energy, MIAN – face,
MING – fate and fortune, XIAO – filial piety; GUAN XI –
interpersonal dynamics and relations.
• American cultural concepts:
The fifth group (E) is manifested by lexemes for
nomination of mythological objects:

• Nomens coming from Greek &

Latin mythology: Minotaur, satyrs,
harpies, nymphs, lares, etc.
• Ukr. Водяний, лісовик , мавка
• Rus. меч-кладенец
• Chin. lóng (dragon),
• Arab. magic carpet
The fourth group (D) is represented by words
with evaluative and axiological connotations:
• Eng. weather, Fr. le temps;
• Rus. погода, погодка; Ukr. погодонька;
• Eng. pitiful, Fr. miserable
• Rus. жалкий, жалкенький; Ukr.
жалюгідненький, жалібненький,
• Eng. enemies; Fr. les enmies
• Rus. враги; Ukr. Вороги, вороженьки,
воріженьки .
• Eng. Peter; Fr. Pièrre
• Rus. Пётр, Петруша, Петенька, Петюня;
Ukr. Петро, Петруша, Петюня, Петюся.
as a cognitive device
• In the frames of cognitive linguistics
metaphor could be defined as a tool for
thinking and effective way of
understanding reality.
• In metaphor a new concept is realized
through a comparison with the already
• By nature metaphor is anthropometric, it
relates to the human scale of world
• Basing on the universal
mechanisms of human
intelligence, metaphor in the same
time is determined by national
outlook and culture.
• It determines the uniqueness of
ethnic language processes of
secondary nomination
Internal form of the word
• Ethnic peculiarities of the language
world models could be found through
the study of internal forms of
correlative words and phraseological
units in different languages. The inner
form of the word is defined as a unity of
both formal and semantic features
which form the basis of the object’s
• Associative vectors which
determine the choice of this or that
semantic feature (taken as a
ground for nomination) detect
significant differences in national
thinking and perception within
different cultures.
Questions to the topic:

• 1. What can you say about the problem of the relationship between language and thought in the history of
• 2. What scientists belong to psychological trend
in linguistics? Give some more information about them.
• 3. What is psycholinguistics?
• 4. Formulate the subject of psycholinguistic
• 5. Formulate the main idea of the theory of isomorphism between the structure of genetic code and code of
natural human language.
• 6. Why, in your opinion, “Syntactic Structures” (1957) by N. Chomsky provided a turning point in 20-th
century linguistics?
• 7. What are the main statements of the hypothesis of brain modularity by N. Chomsky?
• 8. Characterize the notion of speech zones.
• 9. What is motor and semantic aphasias? When do they appear?
• 10. What are the main ideas of the theory of functional asymmetry of the cerebral cortex of the human brain?
• 11. What can you say about the inner speech?
• 12. Who is M.I. Zhinkin? With what kind of hypothesis he had put forward?
• 13. What is universal subject code (USC)?
• 14. How the process of speech generating might be defined?
• 15. Name the stages of speech generating.
• 16. Who is W.von Humboldt?
• 17. Why any language could be looked upon as a “magic circle” of ethnically determined
representations and images?
• 18. What is neohumboldtianism?
• 19. Give characteristics of two versions of the hypothesis of linguistic relativity.
• 20. Give your definition of language world model.
• 21. On which language level do national and cultural peculiarity find their expression?
• 22. Why lexical substratum is considered to be the dominant for manifesting national
specific features of the nation’s mentality?
• 23. Name groups of culturally determined lexics.
• 24. Give examples of non-equivalent lexics.
• 25. Give examples of nomens having different prototypes in different linguocultures.
• 26. Give examples of cultural concepts.
• 27. Give examples of lexemes for nomination of mythological objects.
• 28. How can you characterize axiological connotations?
• 29. Why any metaphor might be defined as a cognitive device?
• 30. How have you understood the notion of internal form of the word. Give your own