Much has been written about the relationship between how people perceive the world and how they communicate their perceptions. The connection between language and perception is subtle and deep. Philosophers and linguists can argue over the fine points, but there is little doubt that words shape perception by offering a vehicle for experiencing it, and perception contributes to language by requiring new vocabulary or grammatical changes when the current language is Inadequate to describe or define an experience.

Perception requires a perceiver. This means that any raw experience is filtered through the senses and also through the mind. Direct sensory experience can be answered intellectually, but at a more basic level, the response is thoughtless, instinctive, and immediate. For example, the reaction to burning is to move away from the heat source, and the smell of something delicious makes your mouth water.

Sensory experience is also analyzed by the mind, and this is where the relationship between language and perception comes into play. Some people believe that all thinking is based on language and that it is impossible to think outside of language. Others believe that primary thinking is possible without including it in vocabulary and grammar.

Either way, there is no doubt that the analysis depends on the language, and it is difficult to consider something for which there are no words. Words divide the continuum of continuous, undifferentiated experience into bytes of sound that represent things, actions, and qualities. When we find something outside the established vocabulary, we tend to assign it to the closest existing word.

For example, the word orange includes a wide range of tints, from those that are lighter and contain more yellow to those that are very deep and almost red. If a person finds something made by man or in nature that contains some elements of orange and some elements of red, that individual will assign it to one category or another and will henceforth think of that color as orange or red. Thus, in the balance of language and perception in this case, language defines perception.

Similarly, when something in the environment becomes substantial enough that existing words simply do not work, the connection between language and perception requires that language be modified. A clear example of this is how rapidly evolving technology has impacted enough people that several new words and phrases have entered the linguistic mainstream. The Internet, websites, and email have become a common language.