„The characteristic role of language with respect to thought is not to create a material phonic means for expressing ideas but to serve as a link between thought and sound,“

—  Ferdinand de Saussure, buch Cours de linguistique générale

Quelle: Cours de linguistique générale (1916), p. 112
Kontext: The characteristic role of language with respect to thought is not to create a material phonic means for expressing ideas but to serve as a link between thought and sound, under conditions that of necessity bring about the reciprocal delimitations of units. Thought, chaotic by nature, has to become ordered in the process of its decomposition. Neither are thoughts given material form nor are sounds transformed into mental entities; the somewhat mysterious fact is rather that "thought-sound" implies division, and that language works out its units while taking shape between two shapeless masses. Visualize the air in contact with a sheet of water; if the atmospheric pressure changes, the surface of the water will be broken up into a series of divisions, waves; the waves resemble the union or coupling of thought with phonic substance.

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Ferdinand de Saussure Foto
Ferdinand de Saussure1
Sprachwissenschaftler 1857 - 1913

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Bertrand Russell Foto
Jacques Derrida Foto

„Although Saussure recognized the necessity of putting the phonic substance between brackets ("What is essential in language, we shall see, is foreign to the phonic character of the linguistic sign" [p. 21]. "In its essence it [the linguistic signifier] is not at all phonic" [p. 164]), Saussure, for essential, and essentially metaphysical, reasons had to privilege speech, everything that links the sign to phone. He also speaks of the "natural link" between thought and voice, meaning and sound (p. 46). He even speaks of "thought-sound" (p. 156). I have attempted elsewhere to show what is traditional in such a gesture, and to what necessities it submits. In any event, it winds up contradicting the most interesting critical motive of the Course, making of linguistics the regulatory model, the "pattern" for a general semiology of which it was to be, by all rights and theoretically, only a part. The theme of the arbitrary, thus, is turned away from its most fruitful paths (formalization) toward a hierarchizing teleology:… One finds exactly the same gesture and the same concepts in Hegel. The contradiction between these two moments of the Course is also marked by Saussure's recognizing elsewhere that "it is not spoken language that is natural to man, but the faculty of constituting a language, that is, a system of distinct signs …," that is, the possibility of the code and of articulation, independent of any substance, for example, phonic substance.“

—  Jacques Derrida, buch Positions

Quelle: Positions, 1982, p. 21

Géza Révész Foto

„Ebbinghaus: Language is a system of conventional signs that can be voluntarily produced at any time.
Croce: Language is articulated, limited sound organized for the purpose of expression.
Dittrich: Language is the totality of expressive abilities of individual human beings and animals capable of being understood by at least one other individual.
Eisler: Language is any expression of experiences by a creature with a soul.
B. Erdmann: Language is not a kind of communication of ideas but a kind of thinking: stated or formulated thinking. Language is a tool, and in fact a tool or organ of thinking that is unique to us as human beings.
Forbes: Language is an ordered sequence of words by which a speaker expresses his thoughts with the intention of making them known to a hearer.
J. Harris : Words are the symbols of ideas both general and particular: of the general, primarily, essentially and immediately; of the particular, only secondarily, accidentally and mediately.
Hegel: Language is the act of theoretical intelligence in its true sense, for it is its outward expression.
Jespersen: Language is human activity which has the aim of communicating ideas and emotions.
Jodl: Verbal language is the ability of man to fashion, by means of combined tones and sounds based on a limited numbers of elements, the total stock of his perceptions and conceptions in this natural tone material in such a way that this psychological process is clear and comprehensible to others to its least detail.
Kainz : Language is a structure of signs, with the help of which the representation of ideas and facts may be effected, so that things that are not present, even things that are completely imperceptible to the senses, may be represented.
De Laguna: Speech is the great medium through which human co-operation is brought about.
Marty: Language is any intentional utterance of sounds as a sign of a psychic state.
Pillsbury-Meader: Language is a means or instrument for the communication of thought, including ideas and emotions.
De Saussure: Language is a system of signs expressive of ideas.
Schuchardt. The essence of language lies in communication.
Sapir: Language is a purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of a system of voluntarily produced symbols.“

—  Géza Révész Hungarian psychologist and musicologist 1878 - 1955

Footnote at pp. 126-127; As cited in: Adam Schaff (1962). Introduction to semantics, p. 313-314
The Origins and Prehistory of Language, 1956

Marcel Marceau Foto

„To communicate through silence is a link between the thoughts of man.“

—  Marcel Marceau French mime and actor 1923 - 2007

US News & World Report (23 February 1987)

Noam Chomsky Foto

„The deep structure that expresses the meaning is common to all languages, so it is claimed, being a simple reflection of the forms of thought.“

—  Noam Chomsky american linguist, philosopher and activist 1928

"Deep and surface structure"
Quotes 2000s, 2007-09, (3rd ed., 2009)

Asger Jorn Foto

„The act of expressing oneself is a physical one. It materializes the thought.“

—  Asger Jorn Danish artist 1914 - 1973

1949 - 1958, Speech to the Penguins' (1949)

Paul Graham Foto

„A programming language is for thinking of programs, not for expressing programs you've already thought of.“

—  Paul Graham English programmer, venture capitalist, and essayist 1964

"Hackers and Painters" http://www.paulgraham.com/hp.html, May 2003

Maurice Merleau-Ponty Foto
Albert Einstein Foto

„The words or the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought.“

—  Albert Einstein German-born physicist and founder of the theory of relativity 1879 - 1955

Answer to a survey written by the French mathematician Jaques Hadamard, from Hadamard's An Essay on the Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field (1945). Reprinted in Ideas and Opinions (1954). His full set of answers to the questions can be read on p. 3 here http://www.pitt.edu/~jdnorton/Goodies/Einstein_think/index.html.
Kontext: The words or the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thoughts are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be "voluntarily" reproduced and combined. There is, of course, a certain connection between those elements and relevant logical concepts. It is also clear that the desire to arrive finally at logically connected concepts is the emotional basis of this rather vague play with the above-mentioned elements.... The above-mentioned elements are, in my case, of visual and some muscular type. Conventional words or other signs have to be sought for laboriously only in a secondary stage, when the mentioned associative play is sufficiently established and can be reproduced at will.

R. G. Collingwood Foto
Jane Roberts Foto
Mina Loy Foto

„Poetry is prose bewitched, a music made of visual thoughts, the sound of an idea.“

—  Mina Loy Futurist poet and actress 1882 - 1966

Quelle: The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems of Mina Loy

George Boole Foto

„That language is an instrument of human reason, and not merely a medium for the expression of thought, is a truth generally admitted.“

—  George Boole English mathematician, philosopher and logician 1815 - 1864

George Boole, quoted in Kenneth E. Iverson's 1979 Turing Award Lecture
Attributed from posthumous publications

Ferdinand de Saussure Foto
Herbert Read Foto
Ludwig Wittgenstein Foto

„Like everything metaphysical the harmony between thought and reality is to be found in the grammar of the language.“

—  Ludwig Wittgenstein, buch Philosophische Untersuchungen

§ 112
Philosophical Investigations (1953)

„ Every individual word in a passage or poetry can no more be said to denote some specific referent than does every brush mark, every line in a painting have its counterpart in reality. The writer or speaker does not communicate his thoughts to us; he communicates a representation for carrying out, this function under the severe discipline of using the only materials he has, sound and gesture. Speech is like painting, a representation made out of given materials -- sound or paint. The function of speech is to stimulate and set up thoughts in us having correspondence with the speaker's desires; he has then communicated with us. But he has not transmitted a copy of his thoughts, a photograph, but only a stream of speech -- a substitute made from the unpromising material of sound. The artist, the sculptor, the caricaturist, the composer are akin in this [fact that they have not transmitted a copy of their thoughts], that they express (make representations of) their thoughts using chosen, limited materials. They make the "best" representations, within these self-imposed constraints. A child who builds models of a house, or a train, using only a few colored bricks, is essentially engaged in the same creative task.* Metaphors can play a most forceful role, by importing ideas through a vehicle language, setting up what are purely linguistic associations (we speak of "heavy burden of taxation," "being in a rut"). The imported concepts are, to some extent, artificial in their contexts, and they are by no means universal among different cultures. For instance, the concepts of cleanliness and washing are used within Christendom to imply "freedom from sin." We Westerners speak of the mind's eye, but this idea is unknown amongst the Chinese. that is, we are looking at it with the eyes of our English-speaking culture. A grammar book may help us to decipher the text more thoroughly, and help us comprehend something of the language structure, but we may never fully understand if we are not bred in the culture and society that has modeled and shaped the language. (p. 74)“

—  Colin Cherry British scientist 1914 - 1979

See Gombrich in reference 348
On Human Communication (1957), Language: Science and Aesthetics

Robert G. Ingersoll Foto

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