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Explain the connection between language and perception.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I tend to think that language and perception work in concert with one another.  Eliana Colunga- Leal argues that our ability to define our world as based on perception is driven largely by language:

It seems clear that language and perception have something to do with each other. At the most superficial level we know we can describe what we perceive using words and can also 'imagine' what is described to us in words.

The idea here is that the ability to describe a perception is done through language.  The greater the language acquisition one has, the greater the chance perception of the world can be described.  If perception is wide ranging, language becomes the only tool through which the experiences of perception can be understood.  Language becomes the element in which perception can be described.  In a sense, perception remains in the realm of the undefined without language.  It can exist and does exist without language.  Yet, in order to effectively convey the experience of perception to others and perhaps to better understand it ourselves, language is needed.  One cannot validate the comprehension and experience of perception without language. 

The interesting implication that comes out of this would be that the greater amount of language that one possesses can reveal more in way of perception- based understanding for there is more tools to articulate it.  Colunga- Leal's point is also well- taken here in that language is needed in order to understand another's person's perception.  Language becomes the filtering tool through which another's perception is understood.  While language might be an inexact science in terms of it not being able to fully capture and understand the absolute precise nature of a perception, it seems that language might be the only tool available to fully comprehend, interpret, and thus share the experience of perception.

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