Does the language we speak affect the way we think?


This week saw a very interesting compilation of recent research on language and thinking on the TED blog. It suggests that English speakers are much more likely to remember who was involved in an accident involving say a broken vase than speakers of Spanish or Japanese. This is because, research suggests, English speakers always recount such incidents by saying “John broke the vase”. Japanese and Spanish speakers, however, would say “The vase was broken”.

Russian speakers are much better than others at being able to recognise different shades of blue. The blog suggests that this is due to the fact that they have distinct words for blues of different shades.

  • To what extent does our language define and circumscribe our thinking?
  • Do thoughts give rise to words, or do words give rise to thoughts? What comes first?
  • Linguistic determinism says that we can not think without words. What do you say?

Read the full post here –  TED blog: 5 examples of how the language we speak can affect the way we think

Other related resources

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