Babies can think before they can speak

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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#21  Postby Stein » Jun 01, 2015 7:10 pm

As a twin, I can attest that my brother and I were actually communicating in a definite language of our own that was not English until we were almost three years old (I believe). Then we switched to English and spoke mostly in complete sentences. I have a very vague memory of a few of the words, but the chronology here is based largely on what our parents told us by the time we were five or six.

I've sometimes wondered if there are similar cases like this involving other twins, or triplets, etc.

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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#22  Postby Zwaarddijk » Jun 02, 2015 7:05 am

Stein wrote:As a twin, I can attest that my brother and I were actually communicating in a definite language of our own that was not English until we were almost three years old (I believe). Then we switched to English and spoke mostly in complete sentences. I have a very vague memory of a few of the words, but the chronology here is based largely on what our parents told us by the time we were five or six.

I've sometimes wondered if there are similar cases like this involving other twins, or triplets, etc.

Stein

This is a fairly well-researched topic, even! Twin languages (iirc there's a technical term too) are not exceedingly common, but not super-uncommon.
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#23  Postby Fallible » Jun 02, 2015 7:06 am

Idioglossia.

And cryptophasia.
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#24  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Jun 02, 2015 7:20 am

Ganglia/brains of about 10,000 plus neurons can think. So if a drosophila can think, then a baby human can.
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#25  Postby DavidMcC » Jun 02, 2015 1:03 pm

Darwinsbulldog wrote:Ganglia/brains of about 10,000 plus neurons can think. So if a drosophila can think, then a baby human can.

What counts as "thinking" in a drosophila, DB?
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#26  Postby DavidMcC » Jun 02, 2015 1:18 pm

Stein wrote:As a twin, I can attest that my brother and I were actually communicating in a definite language of our own that was not English until we were almost three years old (I believe). Then we switched to English and spoke mostly in complete sentences. I have a very vague memory of a few of the words, but the chronology here is based largely on what our parents told us by the time we were five or six.

I've sometimes wondered if there are similar cases like this involving other twins, or triplets, etc.

Stein

What kind of twins are you? Identical, or non-identical? Does that make any difference to the shared special language?
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#27  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Jun 02, 2015 4:02 pm

DavidMcC wrote:
Darwinsbulldog wrote:Ganglia/brains of about 10,000 plus neurons can think. So if a drosophila can think, then a baby human can.

What counts as "thinking" in a drosophila, DB?


Making rational decisions, including strategy from complex, and often contradictory inputs. In other words, they are not automata ruled by instinct. On occasion, they may even outperform human teenagers. They learn. They have memory, they understand time. They can even forgo immediate pleasure for a pay-off of a longer term goal. They are not so very different. granted they are not very good at quantum mechanics, but who is?? :grin: :grin:
They are even vulnerable to the black dog and get drunk.
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#28  Postby Stein » Jun 02, 2015 5:06 pm

DavidMcC wrote:
Stein wrote:As a twin, I can attest that my brother and I were actually communicating in a definite language of our own that was not English until we were almost three years old (I believe). Then we switched to English and spoke mostly in complete sentences. I have a very vague memory of a few of the words, but the chronology here is based largely on what our parents told us by the time we were five or six.

I've sometimes wondered if there are similar cases like this involving other twins, or triplets, etc.

Stein

What kind of twins are you? Identical, or non-identical? Does that make any difference to the shared special language?


I'm not sure if it does make a difference. But we are identical twins, not fraternal. The earliest conversation I remember having with my brother -- and it _may_ have been while we were still speaking this odd language, but I'm guessing it was very soon after we had switched to English -- was wrangling over whether or not the other of us two was real or if everything each of us saw and heard was all in the head. I got started early as a skeptic. ;-)

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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#29  Postby DavidMcC » Jun 03, 2015 1:31 pm

Stein wrote:
DavidMcC wrote:
Stein wrote:As a twin, I can attest that my brother and I were actually communicating in a definite language of our own that was not English until we were almost three years old (I believe). Then we switched to English and spoke mostly in complete sentences. I have a very vague memory of a few of the words, but the chronology here is based largely on what our parents told us by the time we were five or six.

I've sometimes wondered if there are similar cases like this involving other twins, or triplets, etc.

Stein

What kind of twins are you? Identical, or non-identical? Does that make any difference to the shared special language?


I'm not sure if it does make a difference. But we are identical twins, not fraternal. The earliest conversation I remember having with my brother -- and it _may_ have been while we were still speaking this odd language, but I'm guessing it was very soon after we had switched to English -- was wrangling over whether or not the other of us two was real or if everything each of us saw and heard was all in the head. I got started early as a skeptic. ;-)

Cheers,

Stein

I suspect that identicalness would affect your propensity for a shared language, but, like you, I don't have any hard scientific data on that. I fact, that is why I asked.
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#30  Postby InaccessibleRail » Oct 13, 2016 10:54 am

I'm currently reading an excellent book called "How Babies Think" (Alison Gopnik, 2001) that is basically an in depth literature review of pre-verbal cognition. There's an incredible amount going on in those little brains.

Baby sign language illustrates this perfectly. Babies can understand language and produce it via signing well before they're capable of saying their first word. My 7 month old can sign "milk" to let me know he's hungry, for example, but obviously he can't speak yet. The production of speech has as much to do with learning how to use your mouth and your vocal cords as it does actually processing and using a language.

The abstract relations thing made me laugh, my kid also signs "milk" when he's drinking his milk, eating his food and drinking water, but at no other point. He seems to think that "milk" is the category for everything he can eat or drink haha.
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#31  Postby Sendraks » Oct 13, 2016 1:39 pm

Not being a parent, it never occurred to me that babies would try to signal their intentions in ways outside of verbal communication.

Is baby sign language something that is taught to babies or is it more a case of picking up and understanding what their visual cues are?
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#32  Postby felltoearth » Oct 13, 2016 1:52 pm

Sendraks wrote:Not being a parent, it never occurred to me that babies would try to signal their intentions in ways outside of verbal communication.

Is baby sign language something that is taught to babies or is it more a case of picking up and understanding what their visual cues are?


Wouldn't pointing be a (very) basic form of sign language?
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#33  Postby Sendraks » Oct 13, 2016 1:54 pm

felltoearth wrote:Wouldn't pointing be a (very) basic form of sign language?


Pointing, waving, flailing, could all be signals for something.
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#34  Postby ScholasticSpastic » Oct 13, 2016 3:06 pm

I think what we're stumbling over is categories of thought. I can see that there are ways of thinking which would be inaccessible without some sort of language to firm up categorical relationships. But I also think it's irremediably myopic to call pre-linguistic cognition something other than thought.

Of course, I'm contaminated from having read a little linguistic philosophy, and should acknowledge that bias. It makes sense to me that language is a way of thinking in addition to the non-linguistic reasoning our brains also do. Just looking at the rules of grammar and the parts of speech it seems quite apparent that language is a sort of very open-ended operating system, to torture a metaphor. While our brains are able to process data very well without some sort of language (and I include signing as a language since it also has grammatical parameters which are adhered to) I believe that language both expands and constrains the ways our brains process information- and may even effect what we consider to be information for processing.
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#35  Postby InaccessibleRail » Oct 13, 2016 7:28 pm

Sendraks wrote:
Is baby sign language something that is taught to babies or is it more a case of picking up and understanding what their visual cues are?


It's taught, mostly ASL. Signs like "milk" and "more" are generally used as starter signs. But yeah, I'd agree with including pointing and waving too. I'd even go so far as to include things like "kiss" and "hug" because they pick these up well before they can speak.
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#36  Postby igorfrankensteen » Oct 13, 2016 10:20 pm

I frankly don't understand why anyone would even entertain for a moment, the idea that language is required for thought. Aside from my own clear early pre-verbal memories, I indulge in or experience as much non-verbal thought as an adult, as I do verbal thought. Probably more. It's rare that I don't begin with non-verbal elements of conceptualization and THEN translate them into words in order to communicate them.

I think everyone does this, and doesn't recognize it. Take something as small as where on a page, a person decides to write words, when they are communicating. Even better, when people attempt to communicate with non-linguistic symbology of any kind, including hand motions, they choose to use time and space, in order to get the message across.

Body language and where people position themselves in space, relative to each other, are daily used non-literary forms of communication, and when people take such communication in, they do NOT first translate it laboriously into verbiage, they directly react and respond with other time and space modifications.
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#37  Postby ScholasticSpastic » Oct 14, 2016 12:28 am

igorfrankensteen wrote:It's rare that I don't begin with non-verbal elements of conceptualization and THEN translate them into words in order to communicate them.

While I agree that quite possibly every single thought we have begins without a linguistic analog, most of the thoughts we remember don't end that way, and the transition from pre-linguistic to linguistic thought alters the thought itself. The words we choose to frame our thoughts constrain the meanings and relationships of the thought in ways which often had not happened prior to bridging into language. Whether this is to the benefit or the detriment of our thinking is, I think, a question of context.

What are my sources? You went with anecdote, so that's where I'm pulling my stuff out of, too.
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#38  Postby BWE » Oct 14, 2016 1:45 am

laklak wrote:Duh. Are there people who actually thought they didn't think before learning language? Really? Probably the same people who claim that dogs aren't conscious, cows don't have feelings, and women shouldn't study the sciences.

You took the words right out of my keyboard
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#39  Postby igorfrankensteen » Oct 14, 2016 11:34 pm

ScholasticSpastic wrote:
igorfrankensteen wrote:It's rare that I don't begin with non-verbal elements of conceptualization and THEN translate them into words in order to communicate them.

While I agree that quite possibly every single thought we have begins without a linguistic analog, most of the thoughts we remember don't end that way, and the transition from pre-linguistic to linguistic thought alters the thought itself. The words we choose to frame our thoughts constrain the meanings and relationships of the thought in ways which often had not happened prior to bridging into language. Whether this is to the benefit or the detriment of our thinking is, I think, a question of context.

What are my sources? You went with anecdote, so that's where I'm pulling my stuff out of, too.


We aren't in any disagreement. My point was in response to the initial article, the title of the thread, and a later post or two which seemed to be from people who are not aware that thought is not always (and possibly never) entirely in verbal form.

I suggest that many people lose their awareness of the non-verbal aspects of their own inner selves, because they get in the habit, either of ignoring their own thoughts until the verbal translation is complete, or they only "read" the word-labels in their heads, without bothering to look at the "pictures" they are labeling.

Emotions would be a good example to consider. Anger especially, occurs, and the angry person is aware of it, long before any linguistic reference is made available. Most emotions are like that.

I suggest further, that the ever increasing size of the Human vocabulary, is a sort of proof that there are more words needed, than are available to represent all that occurs in the human mind.

And by the way, I wouldn't say that the term "anecdote" is the best one to refer to what we are suggesting. "Crude literary translation of Direct Observations " is more accurate.
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Re: Babies can think before they can speak

#40  Postby ScholasticSpastic » Oct 15, 2016 12:20 am

We 100% agree about the stuff I didn't quote, but the following is vulnerable to my nit-picking:
igorfrankensteen wrote:
I suggest further, that the ever increasing size of the Human vocabulary, is a sort of proof that there are more words needed, than are available to represent all that occurs in the human mind.

I don't think the cause-effect relationship is as clear as you imply with this statement.

And by the way, I wouldn't say that the term "anecdote" is the best one to refer to what we are suggesting. "Crude literary translation of Direct Observations " is more accurate.

I'll stick with "anecdote." It means the same thing and is easier to type. ;)
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