You are what you speak
leahket 120000BBPE Visits (1656)
earlier blog entry, I am fascinated by the emotional ambiance of language: the energy of Japanese and Chinese, the soothing feelings evoked by French, and the harshness of Russian and German. It turns out those differences are proving to go well beyond the po-TAY-to versus po-TAH-to argument.
Recently I found this Wall Street Journal article which describes how language influences the way people perceive reality. Over the past decade, scientists have expanded their studies from the differences between languages to whether those language differences result in differences in how native speakers think. Does our understanding of concepts of space, time and causality depend on our native language (or languages) ?
Until recently, the idea that language might shape thought was considered untestable. But new research is identifying causal relationships between linguistic and cognitive realms. For example:
"It turns out that if you change how people talk, that changes how they think. If people learn another language, they inadvertently also learn a new way of looking at the world. When bilingual people switch from one language to another, they start thinking differently, too. .... This research cuts right to the fundamental questions we all ask about ourselves. How do we come to be the way we are? Why do we think the way we do? An important part of the answer, it turns out, is in the languages we speak."