Defining Language, Defining Us

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I believe that our mother tongue affects the way that we view the world to some degree. When I have talked to people who are bilingual, they always say how their different languages shape the world that they see. As was mentioned in our textbook some cultures focus on different parts of the pictures, memories etc. The Asian cultures will focus more on the exterior part of the world while the Americans and Europeans will focus on the "main character" the picture or memory. In addition some languages allow people to express their feelings, emotions, ideas in a more concise manner. Whenever I have a feeling that I just can't place a finger on, I always think "what if I spoke another language, would I be able to figure out this emotion?" When I have learned French, more often than not the teacher has talk about certain words in a more abstract manner because there is no direct translation for the word into the English language. This can prove frustrating because often times when we translate, the wording becomes too wordy and confusing. There really hasn't been much research on the idea of our mother tongue shaping our views of the world but Lera Boroditsky has attempted to research this hard topic in "How Language Shapes Thought." In the video, "Why 'Freedom Fries' Never Stuck", Boroditsky explains why we can't replace some words for others. Do you think that we should continue to research how language effects thought, or do you think that it is something that we'll never really be able to "figure out"?
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3 Comments

I think you bring up a very interesting points. I also know from growing personal experiences with growing up bilingual. I grew up speaking both Chinese and English so I know what you're talking about when you say there's not always a direct translation for certain words between two languages. I think that language effects thought from a cultural aspect because of how certain languages were developed and the history behind that, but I also think that it would be extremely hard for researchers to be able to prove that through experiments because of the complexity of the issue and due to principles of thinking such as correlation versus causation.

It is a very good point your expressed. Yea, I think mother tongue affects the way that we view the world to some degree.Because sometimes when i reading some native student's essay, I kind of don't know some slang they talking about, and it is hard to me to reach their inside meanings.

I agree that as we increase the amount of languages that we speak it not only enables us to communicate to other people but also aids us in the way in which we percieve the world and understand out surroundings.

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This page contains a single entry by chepp002 published on March 4, 2012 5:02 PM.

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