"Do the structure of particular languages affect the way we attend to, encode, represent, remember, and reason about the world?" I have featured this phenomenally interesting topic many times on this blog (see Enfield, Boroditsky, Knobe and Boroditsky, and Ngugi wa Thiong'o). The implications of this research are huge. I strongly recommend this brilliant, action-packed lecture by Lera Boroditsky (1:40 hrs), whose major experimental research findings, in her own words, can be summarized as follows:
- People who speak different languages think differently.
- Many aspects of language shape thinking: grammar, lexicon, orthography...
- Language meddles in even low-level perceptual decisions.
- Learning new languages can change the way you think.
- Sometimes, people think differently when speaking different languages.
- In bilinguals, both languages are at least somewhat active.
- Learning a new language can change the way you speak your native language.
- Each language provides its own cognitive toolkit, [and] encapsulates the knowledge and world view developed over thousands of years within a culture.
In short, "languages really shape how we construct reality". Wow, didn't Nagarjuna get it right (and so did Wittgenstein, from a different philosophical lineage nearly 1800 years later)!
(Thanks to Robin Varghese, 3QD. The video above may not show up in all feed readers. Another article here.)