Integrative Seminar 2: Language Identity

Question: Does language shape the way we think? Why or why not?

Subsequent to Lera Boroditsky’s TED talk, I think that language help shape the way we think. There are seven thousand languages in the world. Being exposed to a specific culture that we grew up in, the language we learn may shape the way we think differently from the other languages. Boroditsky mentions the feminine and masculine words such as beautiful and calm would describe the stereotype of a woman as well as aggressive and strong would describe the male stereotypes. Additionally, she also reveals the languages that have personal weight to us. Given the example of a man accidentally pushing the monument of the vase, English speakers would perceive that the man broke the vase and Spanish speakers would discern that the vase broke by itself. We tend to perceive this in our daily lives – that is, who to blame the cause of the result. From my personal experience, I am exposed to the different cultures and languages and certain words contain different meanings and people can perceive it differently as well. A personal memory was the idea of sharing food. Going to an international school and telling my friends “You can have some gum if you want”, some perceived it has “you can take it” and others would understand it as taking only a little. Through these examples, people can have different perceptions and possibly misunderstand depending on the different languages in the world today.

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