It is a well-known fact that we are strongly influenced by our thoughts. Everything we do starts with an impulse of thought. If we are going to build a chair, the idea or construct of the chair must be in your mind, before it is transmuted into reality. The accumulation of all our thoughts determine who we are as a person—as a human being.
Of all the creation, the human beings are the only ones gifted with language. Only humans are able to speak. That means that the more we know about a language, the more humans we become. What is the meaning of this? Well, the more languages you learn, the deeper you are in becoming a better human being. A deeper understanding of different languages will expand the knowledge of the world around you. Recent cognitive researchs suggests that language profoundly influences the way people see the world. The Germans called this conception of the world “Weltanschauung“—a comprehensive view of the world and human life.
The more languages a persons knows, the more he will understand his reality. His humanity will be enhanced by this broader knowledge of languages. The question of whether languages shape the way we think goes back centuries; Charlemagne proclaimed that, “to have a second language is to have a second soul.”
“Languages, of course, are human creations, tools we invent and hone to suit our needs. Simply showing that speakers of different languages think differently doesn’t tell us whether it’s language that shapes thought or the other way around. To demonstrate the causal role of language, what’s needed are studies that directly manipulate language and look for effects in cognition.
One of the key advances in recent years has been the demonstration of precisely this causal link. 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. And if you take away people’s ability to use language in what should be a simple nonlinguistic task, their performance can change dramatically, sometimes making them look no smarter than rats or infants.”
In my life I’ve learned two languages: Spanish (my native tongue) and English. Each one has its own characteristics, and the more I understand them, the more I’m convinced that each one has its own perspectives on space, time and the construct notions of causality.
“Language is a uniquely human gift. When we study language, we are uncovering in part what makes us human, getting a peek at the very nature of human nature. As we uncover how languages and their speakers differ from one another, we discover that human natures too can differ dramatically, depending on the languages we speak. The next steps are to understand the mechanisms through which languages help us construct the incredibly complex knowledge systems we have. Understanding how knowledge is built will allow us to create ideas that go beyond the currently thinkable. 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.”
Next time when you enter your Spanish or English class, remember that it is here where you will discover who you are and what you will be in the years to come. Language is a lot more than articles, prepositions, grammar, verbs, nouns, adverbs or adjectives. Language is everything! Think about it—it’s good stuff to keep your brain juices flowing. Good Day.
Source: Lost In Translation by Lera Boroditsky