|Helen Keller with her tutor, Anne Sullivan, 1888|
up without language of any kind. She behaved savagely, grunting and screaming and grabbing fistfuls of other people's food with animalistic instinct, until her tutor, Anne Sullivan, taught her to behave, but more importantly, how to use sign language. When Keller finally understood the connection between the objects and the signs for them that her teacher showed her, she had a revelation. And from there, she was able to progress and grow and become an inspiration for many.
After the film, I remember wondering how someone who is blind and deaf--someone who has never been exposed to language--would form thoughts in their mind. Would it just be a haze of fleeting instincts and flashes of tactical perception? I couldn't imagine trying to think without the essential element of language.
In Ayn Rand's Anthem, Equality 7-2521 also recognizes the limitations of thought and language. As he ponders on his own language, knowing that certain words have been willfully eradicated, he wonders:
The words of the Evil Ones . . . The words of the Unmentionable Times . . . What are the words which we have lost?
Have you ever struggled to describe a concept, even as a fluent speaker of your native tongue? There are several known examples of words that don't exist in English but exist in other languages (this source names only a few). How many more are there? Are there concepts for which the word does not exist in any language?
What do you guys think? I'm going to circulate these questions among some fellow English majors here at BYU, as well as Linguistics majors/enthusiasts as well.