It's language, stupid!



Ever thought there might be something missing from our understanding of the universe?

What if language was that something, a fifth dimension in the fabric of the universe which unfolds itself whenever we think, speak or write?


As you read, think about how language creates a passage through a dimension that didn’t exist before. As your mind ‘travels’ through this dimension, think about how the words flow from left to right into sentences and the sentences into a paragraph. There is a sense of being transported somewhere; a sense of travelling perhaps. This is not a trip through space however, but a journey through the dimension of language.


The mind is where language takes place, i.e. where the linguistic dimension is accessed, and this is all that takes place there. Language therefore is the DNA of the mind. Or more succinctly, language is the mind and the mind is language. All else that takes place within our brain is non-conscious brain activity. Seeing images, hearing sounds, feeling surfaces, etc. are all just brain activity that we can never be mindful of unless we use language to token and structure it.


A lifetime of linguistic thought and contemplation goes on behind this personality which we could never foretell. I have probably had more linguistic conversations with myself this morning travelling in to work on the train than I have had in public with other people in this whole year! Certainly my private thoughts this morning have been much more personal, intimate and familiar to me. We live a whole lifetime behind the mask of our minds, only letting slip the odd conversation or so, and we live that life in the glorious technicolour of language.

Truth cannot be out there – cannot exist independently of the human mind – because sentences cannot so exist, or be out there. The world is out there, but descriptions of the world are not. 

Richard Rorty

The Author

Dr Michael Cribb is Assistant Professor of English Language at Coventry University in the United Kingdom. He has published widely on applied linguistics and political discourse analysis. His other books include Slips of the Tongue from the Linguistic Graveyard and the sumptuous photo essay to be someone in a language. He lives in Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom.

Buy the book on Amazon in paperback or eBook

Also available

A photo essay by Michael Cribb of non-representational linguistic idealism. Fifty three sumptuous spreads in full colour narrated and interpreted through inspirational quotes. The book builds on Hannah Arendt’s lamentation that we live in a language, not with a language. Language is the DNA of the mind and in language we experience our existence

an experience makes its appearance only when it is being said and unless it is said it is, so to speak, non-existent

Hannah Arendt

It may seem strange to publish a book on language through a series of pictures but in many ways life is just that strangeness. We juxtapose the linguistic with the visual and interpret the visual through the linguistic. Life is a constant shift between on-stage and off-stage performances which this book enacts. In some way the paradox is always with us even though we like to think we can see through it. In this book, I leave the paradox firmly in place for you to appreciate the beauty of the duality as it stands—it won’t always be there for you.

Michael Cribb

Includes free access to the online website that narrates and exemplifies linguistic idealism.

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