• Does Language Influence How You See The World?

    Article by April McCarthy

    Holder of a Master's degree in contrastive linguistics (English-French), regular readers of the French blog will know how fond of language I am and how essential I feel it is to cultivate and preserve it at all costs. Unlike what some might think, I wasn't born nor educated in a privileged environment and only became bilingual through hard work, development of latent potentials (initiated during past lives?) and experiences built in this present life. The article reposted below allowed me to finally understand what I knew already but was unable to express verbally: language is much more than a mere communication tool. Therefore I fully agree with what the author wrote, especially where she says each language we're fluent in has a different influence on our personality and how we see ourselves. This is why there are things I find easier to express in English than in French (my native tongue) and vice versa. This is also why I feel a different person whether I speak or think in the former or the latter.

    A Russian young lady (who will recognise herself if she ever reads this) once told me that she felt her mother tongue was an intuitive language, English being logical while French was more emotional, half-way between English and Russian. I tend to agree with her. Incidentally, I have a distant memory of Russian classes at university where there were about 40 of us attending at the beginning of term but only 5 remaining by the beginning of the next. One student, whose mother tongue was Arabic, obviously seemed to grasp the basics of Russian with greater ease than the rest of us French/English speakers — not on account of any linguistic, grammatical or phonetic similarities but rather because the mindset structuring this language appears to be closer to the one structuring Eastern languages as opposed to Western languages. In that respect, Russian could indeed be deemed more intuitive.

    Just learning to think in another language allows you to see your own culture in a better viewpoint.

    ~ Gates McFadden

    However, where intuition does play a major part in the development of linguistic skills, it certainly becomes crucial when translating, not only to spot unknown idioms but also to grasp the meaning of any neologism not matched nor defined in any dictionary yet. Yes, translation is an art online algorithms and casual human translators are not prepared to measure up with. The same applies to the proper use of dictionaries. Only those who can thoroughly think in one language without resorting to their native tongue can expect to achieve bilingualism as it involves some form of mental gymnastics no teacher will ever be able to teach you and that you'll therefore have to find for yourself. In this regard, acquiring fluency in foreign languages is much akin to personal development.

    Ey@el

    The language you are introduced to affects the structure of your brain, influences how you see the world and who you are. But what if you speak two languages?

    Can learning a language rewire your brain?

    As our species evolved parts of our brain expanded, resulting in more computing power for language. It's what makes us hard-wired for communication. What is perhaps more surprising is how language can shape our brains throughout our lives.

    Most of the evidence for this comes from studies of people who are bilingual. Being bilingual offers widespread benefits across a range of complex cognitive tasks and it comes from distinct areas of the brain.

    Read more...

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