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Steady As She Goes

by Theodore Dalrymple (July 2009)

 

The relation of language to thought has long been a philosophical puzzle, one to which no universally accepted answer has yet been given. Is language a precondition or determinant of thought, or thought a precondition and determinant of language? For myself, I incline to the latter view, on the no doubt simplistic grounds that, when writing, I often have the following experience.
 
I know that there is something I want to say, but at first the right words do not come to express it. They are, I realise, only an approximation to my idea; then suddenly, dredged from I know not where (though it feels like somewhere located near the base of my skull), the right words arrive and I know at once that they are the best possible words in my possession for what I want to say.  more>>>