I am exploring of a possibility of experiencing the world around without a language. By listening, speaking, seeing and reflecting on words made by the alphabets of a language - one experiences the World. How far is this correct?

  • 1
    What do you mean exactly?
    – Alenanno
    Feb 13, 2013 at 15:03
  • Don't do it! It will be a huge disappointment, however attractive the prospect may seem.
    – Cerberus
    Feb 13, 2013 at 15:09
  • 1
    There are a small number of cases of children being found who lacked anything like what we would consider 'language'. For example, the case of Genie: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genie_%28feral_child%29 These can give some insight into such a possibility, but it's (necessarily) rather impressionistic.
    – LaurenG
    Feb 14, 2013 at 0:18
  • 2
    What you are asking is interesting. But in using "alphabet" you are conveying the impression that you know next to nothing about language. An alphabet is a tool with which we can do languagey things, but it is no more a tool of language than is a tape recorder.
    – Colin Fine
    Feb 15, 2013 at 0:53
  • 2
    @CharanSingh - In that case, you probably want to look at the cases of children born deaf who don't have exposure to language until quite late: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… some of these children go on to learn language and can recollect their pre-linguist life, although often they find it hard to articulate what it was like. This was part of the syllabus of a course I sat in on for Language Acquisition, but I don't recall any of the specific literature.
    – LaurenG
    Feb 16, 2013 at 11:48

2 Answers 2


Genie was a feral child who was abused and grew up almost without linguistic skills but acquired some language skills as a teenager. The papers published on her case might provide insights into the view point of someone who does not have language.


As a speech-language therapist (M.S., CCC-SLP), I have met people who obviously perceive the world and who just as obviously lack language.

During my training, I worked briefly with someone with global aphasia. Thanks to certain brain injuries, such as strokes, some people wind up with aphasia, or loss of some of their language abilities. The most severe form of aphasia, namely total loss of the ability to communicate with conventional (i.e. arbitrary) symbols, is called global aphasia. See this Wikipedia article on global aphasia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_aphasia

Global aphasia differs from dementia in that global aphasia patients can do well on non-verbal IQ tests and on many tasks that do not require symbol use, whereas the victims of severe dementia score low on tests of language and cognition and have difficulty doing most tasks.

Strokes and brain injuries arent' the only conditions that can manifest themselves in the lack of language. Over the last ten years or so, I have worked with increasing numbers of students whose autism is so severe that they have not acquired an L1, and must be taught to communicate with picture exchange.

caseyr547 has already mentioned Genie. You may wish to read the book "Genie, a Scientific Tragedy" by Russ Rymer. Her case is instructive, but one need not look at such rare cases to document perception without language.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.