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Language and the mind

I saw the movie “contact” the other day, where the learning of a new language has some profound implications of how the mind works. It made me remember when I studied philosophy, a student argued that the German’s were “such an actionable people”, since they put verbs last in their sentences. Ignoring whatever this “ableness” could refer to, it points to an idea that language shapes and forms the mind and makes you a different person. Focusing on verbs will make you more of a doer.

I also remembered the idea that animals and babies cannot have a sense of self since they don’t have a language. If I can’t describe myself, I shouldn’t be able to think about myself either (I don’t remember who claimed this or why).

In the English language there are two words “safety” and “security”, which in my language (Swedish) translates to one and the same word. This makes it hard for us to separate the two. Turns out that English-speakers makes this mistake as well. That their minds has not been profoundly moulded into something that perceives the absolutes of "secure" and "safe" as two obviously separate entities. Like how we perceive apples and cars. In fact, they too need to learn the difference and similarities of these entities. That language simply is a means for communication - a bridge for transferring my thoughts into yours.

So here I am with the strange conclusion that communication is communication and not something magical nor divine. Who could’ve thunk it?


Hello! How nice of you stopping by! ❤️

My name is Olof Thorén, I am an indie developer from Stockholm, Sweden.

I really enjoy creating stuff, and that is the reason why I am doing this. I started working full-time on building apps in 2009.

At the moment my main focus is Feeds, a glorified news and RSS-reader that keeps track of the web for you. I also build Qiozk Solo, white-label magazine apps for (mainly Swedish) publishers. I have published ~75 Solo-apps though most of them are not active today. Aggressive Development has published 15 apps under its own name and many more for other companies.

Please feel free to say hello on twitter @olof_t or email olof@aggressive.se. Don't hesitate to send me comments or feedback on anything I write.