20 Feb 2011

What is thought without language?

I’m listening to the Season 2 Ep 8 show, Words by RadioLab.

It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without words. But in this hour of Radiolab, we try to do just that.

We meet a woman who taught a 27-year-old man the first words of his life, hear a firsthand account of what it feels like to have the language center of your brain wiped out by a stroke, and retrace the birth of a brand new language 30 years ago…

And this just came up:

Shakespeare often combined words to create concepts and new words that we are now so familiar with. I think that surely it must have changed the way we think about things. Opened our minds to new thoughts, ideas and even made us feel different. Possibly feel emotions from being able to look at things so closely.

Here is a list of his new words we use every day that may surprise you. They are all in his writings and he was the first to publish them:

unnerved, unaware, uncomfortable, unearthly, unhand, undress, uneducated, ungoverned, unwillingness, unmitigated, unpublished, unsolicited, unswayed, unclogged, unappeased, unchanging,
I love this one: UNREAL.

a ladybird

Shakespeare created phrases that have stuck in the mind so well, that it seem as if they always existed.

“truth will out”
“what’s done is done”
“crack of dawn”
“dead as a doornail”
“a dish fit for the gods”
“a dog will have its day”
“faint hearted”
“fools paradise”
“forever and a day”
“foregone conclusion”
“the game is afoot”
“the game is up”
“Greek to me!”
“in a pickle”
“in my heart of hearts”
“in my minds eye”
“kill with kindness”

“knock knock who’s there?”

“love is blind”
“all’s well that ends well”
“something wicked this way comes”
“a sorry sight”

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