Are we Limited by Language?
Human language is a natural phenomenon, and language learning is instinctive in childhood. In using language, people use patterns of sound or gesture to convey the words and rules of language, or they represent these patterns in codes such as writing. There are thousands of languages, historically related to each other in many language families, and they share a number of common properties. Besides using naturally acquired language, people have consciously crafted languages such as Esperanto and Klingon.
Language is considered limited when it comes to expressing thought. A good analogy is the attempt to capture a sunset on a canvas: The result is rarely even remotely comparable to the original. The best results are typically reached when the attempt of an accurate portrayal is abandoned in favour of capturing the viewers imagination .
One of the largest problems is that language is essentially linear: Thoughts, on the other hand, are non-linear and tend to form a network of interconnecting associations, dependencies, causalities, etc. To cover one relatively small subject matter in a way that corresponds to the original thought(s) implies mapping this network onto a linear structure—which is impossible for any non-trivial thoughts.
Language can be ambiguous: It would more or less impossible to write an algorithm to convert between English (or any other natural language) to pure idea (even assuming that “pure idea” could be represented sufficiently well in another form).
Language does not provide words for all concepts. One of the largest problems is finding individual words that correspond to a certain concept, and that everyone will both understand and have the same meaning for.Language is not understood uniformly. may not have the same meaning for the same common expression that they both know. Words relating to ideology or religion like “conservative”, “liberal”, “feminist”, “communist”, “christian”, ... can vary considerably both in literal meaning and connotation . Even the more everyday and neutral words often have large differences in interpretation.
Language is poor at communicating emotions, especially when written, and needs to be combined with intonation and body language of, facial expression, hand gestures.
A solution to some problems could be replacing traditional natural languages with an artificial construct. Notably, statements in programming languages typically have a unique meaning and are much better suited to express thoughts—if only in a very limited area. So perhaps we should be speaking Esperanto or Klingon!