There is this sentence which I can't work out the meaning. "They have a unique identity between language and thought that means they cannot conceptualize a lie. This also means that deception, fiction and metaphors are completely alien to them." I can't understand the 1st sentence "They have... that". What is the meaning of Identity here and what is the effect of between prep and it's complement on the meaning of identity? Can somebody kindly explain to me what is the meaning of first sentence?

Thanks. Alex.

  • Can you tell us what you think the sentence means? It doesn't matter if you're right or wrong; it might save some typing and explaining. Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 11:07
  • May I put it in this way "For them the identity of language and thought is the same." Would sb tell me the role & meaning of "betweeen" plz? BTW, It's a race of creatures in a Sci-Fi novel.
    – user72454
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 13:53
  • You're basically spot-on. I'm a native English speaker, and even I feel there's some ambiguity here. My best guess is: they have a unique affinity of thought + language that disallows them to conceive of falsehood. The sentence, however, does not explain why this is so. Only that it is. There is nothing about the structure of the sentence that changes it's meaning to explain this inability to imagine anything but the truth. Thank you for trying. :) You got it pretty much completely. (Oh, and I thought it might be Sci-fi, or a strange neurological illness I was unfamiliar with. Thanks.) Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 14:07
  • What do you mean by "the effect of between prep and its complement "?
    – choster
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 14:29
  • To extend the question further, I've stumbled this phrase in a legal text: 1. Non-Waivable Red List 1.1. Thereisanidentitybetweenapartyandthearbitrator,or the arbitrator is a legal representative of an entity that is a party in the arbitration. IBA rules on Conflict of Interest page 20
    – user3158
    Commented Sep 2, 2014 at 12:04

2 Answers 2


"Identity" here does not carry its common conversational English meaning of "selfhood."

Instead, it means "sameness"; think of it as the noun form of the adjective "identical," as in "identical twins." This is a less common meaning in everyday speech but is reasonably common in technical or academic writing.

In other words: the sentence could be rephrased as: "To them, uniquely, language and thought are identical, so that they cannot conceptualize a lie."

  • I wanted to ask about the verb "have" in that sentence. I thought to myself here it mustn't have the common meaning for possession but sth close to conceive or sth else. Could you please provide another sentence with the verb have with the same meaning? I understand the meaning of Identity here. Thanks.
    – user72454
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 18:27
  • No; it's possession. In this case, "they" possess a specific mental trait. For example: "He has a good command of the English language," or "They have no idea who they're dealing with." These are all expressing the possession of intangible, mental traits.
    – chapka
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 18:47

Say we are trying to understand the psychological and linguistic foundations for lying. What gives people the ability to lie?

One model might be that a person first conceives the truth. They then mentally prepare a list of responses. They then deliberately select a wrong response. This activity requires a mental one—to-many map. If a person’s linguistic tool-set does not include this one-to-many map, they cannot lie because they don’t “see” any alternative responses. They only have a simple one-to-one mapping between the concept and the words.

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