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Does Speaking Another Language Change How You Think? | Scott H Young

Does Speaking Another Language Change How You Think? | Scott H Young

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2014/07/27/language-and-thought/

scotthyoung.com

Language And The Way We Think

Language And The Way We Think

Language is a literal and linguistic tool that many believe is a fundamental basis of the way we think. Some have hypothesized (like the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis) that many languages do not have room for certain thought patterns, and are able to alter our thoughts.

The underlying logic is just because there is no word in a certain language to express something, people who speak the language will not be able to think it, and if they learn a different language, new words and phrases are learned, leading to new ways of thinking.

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Languages Are Tied To Culture

  • Culture is a way of perspective and identity, and people speaking the same language immediately bond and form a connection.
  • If an English speaking person learns Spanish, the underlying culture that emphasises ‘passion’ or ‘enjoying the experience’ is a more important cultural value in the countries who are natively Spanish.
  • The culture of a certain place may include cuisine, history, music and notable personalities, but language becomes the salt without which the culture is tasteless.

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Language: The Gateway To Culture

The local language is the preferred route to understand the culture due to 2 reasons:

  1. Most people don’t speak English very well, due to their learning it as a second or third language. These people do not represent the real sampling of the country's population, just being the better-educated cosmopolitans who speak a global language.
  2. Most translations are poor substitutes for the real cultural essence, and a person needs to learn the original language to fully understand the context and culture.

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Language Learning Changes The Perspective

Learning a new language provides access to people who have different thoughts than our own, helping us understand ourselves and the world with a new insightful mindset that didn’t exist before.

Learning a new language, therefore is not just culture, but a way into the minds of people who are not like us.

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