IJN Colloquium

Sound of Thoughts

Nirmalangshu Mukherjee (Delhi)
Practical information
07 May 2021



All work on language assume a certain basic design feature of language : there is a thought part and there is a sensorimotor part. Human languages are distinguished in that these two parts are somehow put together. The task of a theory of language thus is to suggest explanatory models in which this design feature is predicted for each construction in each human language. This design feature has also motivated some researchers, such as Chomsky and Berwick (2016), to propose a ‘divide and rule’ policy : language basically concerns (structuring of) thought, sound is ‘ancillary’.

We develop some preliminary considerations to suggest that the Chomsky-Berwick proposal is radically false. We develop two related arguments. First, we show that thoughts involving singular terms are necessarily connected with sound. Hence, the description of human thought remains incomplete without sound-meaning correlation. Second, more fundamentally, we challenged the idea that there could be thought without antecedent sound/gesture. Sound/gesture gives the ‘body’ to thought ; sound/gesture enables thought to come to being, so to speak. If time permits, a range of consequences will be sketched.

Most talks will be online. We’ll have a limited number of slots for external participants. If you’d like to attend a session, please send an email about one week before that session to denis.buehler@ens.fr.