No. Human thought precedes language.
The anecdotal evidence for this should suffice, but you cannot be trusted (as you already have language skills).
Short Answer: Prelingual infants think.
In 2004 researchers Hespos and Spelke explored Korean language concepts with a group of five-month-old (human) infants from English-speaking homes...
The example they used to explore this
question was differences between how
different languages describe space.
For example, the distinction between a
tight fit versus a loose fit is marked
in Korean but not in English. A cap on
a pen would be a tight fit
relationship, while a pen on a table
would be a loose fit relationship.
English does not mark this distinction
in the same way, instead emphasizing
the “containment” versus “support”
relationship, for example: the coffee
is in the mug or the mug is on the
table. - source
...the infants showed an understanding of events that represented a change in "fit"...
Because this capacity is observed well
before the acquisition of a natural
language in infants whose ambient
language does not mark the
distinction, this capacity does not
depend on language experience.
Instead, the capacity seems to be
linked to mechanisms for representing
objects and their motions that are
shared by other animals and therefore
evolved before the human language
faculty. - source
In other words...
Learning a particular language may
lead us to favor some of these
concepts over others, but the concepts
already existed before we put them
into words. - source
More: Why would you think language is required ?
On one hand we can claim that we can
even think in pictures or on the other
hand one has to think to learn a
language. In terms of neurosciences it
has been proved that thinking without
language is possible. However the
philosophical references often deny
that one can think without language.
These philosophical discussions have been going on for sometime...
When people have begun to reflect on
language, its relation to thinking
becomes a central concern. Several
cultures have independently viewed the
main function of language as the
expression of thought. Ancient Indian
grammarians speak of the soul
apprehending things with the intellect
and inspiring the mind with a desire
to speak, and in the Greek
intellectual tradition Aristotle
declared, “Speech is the
representation of the experiences of
the mind” (On Interpretation). Such an
attitude passed into Latin theory and
thence into medieval doctrine.
Medieval grammarians envisaged three
stages in the speaking process: things
in the world exhibit properties; these
properties are understood by the minds
of humans; and, in the manner in which
they have been understood, so they are
communicated to others by the
resources of language. Rationalist
writers on language in the 17th
century gave essentially a similar
account: speaking is expressing
thoughts by signs invented for the
purpose, and words of different
classes (the different parts of
speech) came into being to correspond
to the different aspects of thinking.
- Wilhelm von Humboldt: Credited as an originator of the linguistic relativity hypothesis (aka: the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis).
- Benjamin Lee Whorf: Widely known for his ideas about linguistic relativity, the hypothesis that language influences thought.
- Noam Chomsky: Well known in the academic and scientific community as one of the fathers of modern linguistics.
On the one hand, most people, after
hearing evidence that language is an
innate faculty of humans, would not be
surprised to learn that it comes from
the same source that every other
complex innate aspect of the human
brain and body comes from — namely,
natural selection. But two very
prominent people deny this conclusion,
and they aren't just any old prominent
people, but Stephen Jay Gould,
probably the most famous person who
has written on evolution, and Noam
Chomsky, the most famous person who
has written on language. They've
suggested that language appeared as a
by- product of the laws of growth and
form of the human brain, or perhaps as
an accidental by-product of selection
for something else, and they deny that
language is an adaptation. I disagree
with both of them. - Pinker, Language Is a Human Instinct
- Steven Pinker: Argues that language is an "instinct" or biological adaptation shaped by natural selection.
...These scholars, ranging from
Aristotle to Freud, took these
specific instances to be exceptional,
marginal eruptions of meaning, curious
and suggestive. But none of them
focused on the general mental capacity
of blending or, as far as we can tell,
even recognize that there is such a
mental capacity. Attentive to the
specific attraction - the painting
,the poem, the dream , the scientific
insight - they did not look for what
all these bits and pieces have in
common. The spectacular trees masked
- Turner-Fauconnier, The
Way We Think
Background: Why is language important ?
Before Homo sapiens came on the scene 150 kya innovation and change amongst the genus of the family Hominidae was pretty dull. Homo habilis showed up 2.4 mya and stayed around for a million years. They had one, and only one, great idea: Stone tools. Next up was Homo erectus (1.5 – 0.2 mya). Erectus was a slow starter but about 400,000 years ago they hit pay-dirt: Controlled use of Fire. Great. For 2.2 million years of effort we have some sharp rocks and a barbeque.
Then things get really interesting.....
Any innovation must take place within
a species, since there is no place
else it can do so. Natural selection
is, moreover, not a creative force. It
merely works on variations that come
into existence spontaneously—it cannot
call innovations into existence just
because they might be advantageous.
Any new structure or aptitude has to
be in place before it can be exploited
by its possessors, and it may take
some time for those possessors to
discover all the uses of such
novelties. Such seems to have been the
case for Homo sapiens in that the
earliest well-documented members of
our species appear to have behaved in
broadly the same manner as
Neanderthals for many tens of
thousands of years. It is highly
unlikely that another species
anatomically indistinguishable from
Homo sapiens but behaviorally similar
to Neanderthals was supplanted
worldwide in an extremely short span
of time. Therefore, it seems
appropriate to conclude that a latent
capacity for symbolic reasoning was
present when anatomically modern Homo
sapiens emerged and that our forebears
discovered their radically new
behavioral abilities somewhat later in
A cultural “release mechanism” of some
sort was necessarily involved in this
discovery, and the favoured candidate
for this role is language, the
existence of which cannot be inferred
with any degree of confidence from the
records left behind by any other
species but our own. Language is the
ultimate symbolic activity, involving
the creation and manipulation of
mental symbols and permitting the
posing of questions such as “What if?”
Not all components of human thought
are symbolic (the human brain has a
very long accretionary, evolutionary
history that still governs the way
thoughts and feelings are processed),
but it is certainly the addition of
symbolic manipulations to intuitive
processes that makes possible what is
recognized as the human mind.
The origins of this mind are obscure
indeed, especially as scientists are
still ignorant of how a mass of
electrochemical signals in the brain
gives rise to what we experience as
consciousness. But the invention of
language would plausibly have released
the earliest of the cultural and
technological innovations that
symbolic thought makes possible—in the
process unleashing a cascade of
discoveries that is still ongoing. One
of the most striking features of the
archaeological record that accompanies
the arrival of behaviorally modern
Homo sapiens is a distinct alteration
in the tempo of innovation and change.
Significant cultural and technological
novelties had previously been rare,
with long periods of apparent
stability intervening between
relatively sudden episodes of
innovation. But once behaviorally
modern Homo sapiens arrived on the
scene, different local technological
traditions—and, by extension, other
forms of cultural diversity—began to
proliferate regularly, setting a pace
that is still gathering today.
The Bottom Line
When you look into the eyes of the one you love and think of what they mean to you...
What language do you think in ?
Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs, Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes, Being vexed, a sea nourished with lovers’ tears. What is it else? A madness most discreet, A choking gall and a preserving sweet. - Bill
What language was he thinking in ?