Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | July 6, 2009

The fundamental faculty

Lera Boroditsky has a fascinating article on Edge that documents the ways languages “profoundly shape the way we think, the way we see the world, the way we live our lives.” Key quote:

I often start my undergraduate lectures by asking students the following question: which cognitive faculty would you most hate to lose? Most of them pick the sense of sight; a few pick hearing. … But what would your life be like if you had never learned a language? Could you still have friends, get an education, hold a job, start a family? Language is so fundamental to our experience, so deeply a part of being human, that it’s hard to imagine life without it. But are languages merely tools for expressing our thoughts, or do they actually shape our thoughts?

Language shapes us in ways we’re just beginning to understand. Read the entire article to get an idea of how much your mother tongue affects the way you perceive and interact with the world around you.

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