Language and how we think

On one of my spring walks last week, I listened to the following TED talk about language and how it shapes the way we think:

Lera Boroditsky: How language shapes the way we think | TED Talk

I can remember when I first came to Germany (a very long time ago 😊) and took a deep dive into the German language, wondering whether Germans must think differently to us because their language is so different. Does saying, “ich wohne hier seit 10 Jahren” make you think differently than if you say, “ I have been living here for 10 years”? Indeed, because they use more verbs than nouns, English speakers seem to focus more on actions and Germans on facts and events (compare working from home and home office), but what happens if you’re bilingual?

Apparently, research shows that the thinking of bilinguals can be more flexible which probably also means that the more languages you speak, the more you can change your thinking patterns and hopefully become more culturally aware and open-minded.

In the talk, Lera tells us that there are about 7,000 languages spoken around the world with one Aboriginal community in Australia using cardinal directions (north, south, east and west etc.) instead of left and right. Imagine asking someone where the nearest shop is and they tell you to take the next road south-east – I wouldn’t have a clue!

Listen to the talk (with subtitles if you need to) – it is quite fascinating!

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