"The vocabulary we have does more than communicate our knowledge , it shapes what we can know" Evaluate this claim with reference to different areas of knowledge.
What are some points i can make to evaluate this claim with examples and how do i connect them to different areas of knowledge i.e.; history, art, sciences, mathematics.. and ways of knowing i.e.; perception, reason, emotion..
When we observe the world around us, we interpret it based on what words we have to describe the world. The more advanced our vocabulary, the more precisely we can interpret and describe the world, and the better we can communicate with others.
There's a brilliant, yet horrible, contrast in Orwell's 1984, where language, thought and knowledge are carefully studied. By reducing the number of words in the "official" dictionary, the concepts those words embody disappear. How can one speak or define freedom when there's no experience of being free? The experience and concept are nonexistent, therefore, no word need exist or evolve later in time to express that.
With human nature, the first step in knowing something--whether it be concrete or abstract--is to name it, and thus define it. For, the definition of any concept is the beginning of any anaysis of this concept. And, with analysis, there is the beginning of comprehension. Thus language is the tool that creates the passage from identification to understanding.
The larger one's vocabulary, the more one can create and convey meaning and the more one can distinguish between subtleties and nuances of meaning. Shakespeare is one of the great writers of the English language partly because his vocabulary was enormous. He could "think" more deeply (or at least express deep thoughts more subtly) because his vocabulary was so much larger than tends to be typical. One of the reasons many of us must rely on thesauruses is to try to find exactly the "right" word to communicate what we are trying to say.
As a writer, the basis of everything that I do is language. I don't care much for the grammatical aspects of it -- I never learned the parts of speech -- but I recognize it as proper or improper based on my reading experience. Good use of language decides the value of a book: the story may be good (and I worship at the alter of story) but bad writing is hard to get past. My knowledge of vocabulary comes entirely from reading; context helps, asking or looking up a word helps, and I now have a reasonable grasp on the English language. The arcane or obscure parts don't interest me unless I see them used in a useful context: Syncretic, for example, I saw in a future fantasy book by Jack Vance, and I didn't know what it meant until I looked it up. (It's a fairly obscure word.) Now it's a part of my vocabulary and I can use it to simply define a concept that would otherwise have taken many words.
Examples of the statement might be made by pointing out vocabulary which is specific to a particular field of study. You might start with something simple like elementary language arts. We cannot discuss what makes a complete sentence until we know what a subject and verb are. You could also look into terms which are much more in depth for a particular field. The various fields of science have many such vocabulary words. Most areas of study like science and mathematics build on themselves. We have to know the terms before we can gain more knowledge and understanding in the field.