Language, Justified(?) Rascism, and Bilinguals

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In lecture, one concept we covered was the relationship between language and how individuals perceive the world. Basically, despite the fact that all our brains in theory have similar layouts where each structure carries out a specific task (unless injury and plasticity create an exception), the efficiently with which we use our mental resources is essentially defined by the language in which we encode our thoughts.

Initially this reminded me of this article I read that claimed the stereotype that "Asians are good at math" is scientifically justified because mathematical language is more straightforward in Asian languages. There is an initial learning curve for counting, but even after that it takes less time to learn new concepts because they explain themselves. For example, For fractions, we say three-fifths. The Chinese is literally 'out of five parts, take three.'

I found another article asserting that people who think in languages that have not yet established a system of communicating location have trouble relocating hidden objects.

I have to wonder if this makes the education system here inherently racist. Sure you can in theory learn everything if you study more, but how does that work if you're learning in one language and thinking in a fundamentally different language? I'd like to see a person who speaks Nicaraguan Sign Language take PSY 1001 (online with subtitles) and see if any amount of extra studying can make up for the underdeveloped mental language. Also, I wonder how the U selects international students. What test do they take? My choices were the ACT and the SAT, but I believe those are designed with English speakers in mind. Maybe the IB program or someone similar set up a test to be "internationally equal" that the U could use, but I have to wonder if its possiblt to do that fairly.

Finally, I have to wonder how true bilinguals work. Not people who know 2 languages, but people who are actually fluent enough to think in both. Do they think in the one they learned first because that's how their brain is wired? More likely they switch between the two based on what language they're working in at the moment, but what if they're learning a third language? Or what if they're working in one language, but the other is inherently more efficient for the current task?

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This page contains a single entry by nguy1797 published on October 23, 2011 2:51 PM.

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