Thinking in Language

It occurs to me that when I say, on the front page of the site, that thoughts form in my mind and are then articulated in English, I’m saying something that might be controversial. Some people might say that thinking takes place in a language, so there is something odd regarding it as I do. Certainly much of the time it seems to me that I’m thinking in English, that the thoughts are the words themselves…but then there are those times when I’m groping for le mot juste, or have a word I’ve forgotten “at the tip of my tongue.” It seems to me that if the thought is the language and nothing more, such situations are inexplicable, perhaps impossible. How can you want a better word for a thought than the word that is the thought? On the other hand if the thought, at least some of the time, comes first then what could be more natural than the occasional feeling that words are slippery, or that

bq. One has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it.
-T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

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