Learning a new language opens up new worlds. Speaking more than one language doesn’t just jazz up your online dating profile or résumé, it also changes how you see the world. “Language is a vehicle for thinking and reasoning,” says Emanuel Bylund, Ph.D., author of the study in Psychological Science. “The question is, if you learn a new language, do you also acquire a new form of thought?”
Answer: Sí. Ja. Da. Definitely.
For example: If your language has limited names for colors, and the language you learn has multiple names, “you’ll end up with more acuity, and memory for colors,” Bylund says. The way a language is constructed also affects how we think. “We looked at the progressive (‘ing’) verb form, which is used in English ‘John is running’ but not in Swedish, which doesn’t distinguish between ‘John runs’ and ‘John is running,’” says Bylund. “The ‘ing’ form describes action, so the English focus more on the details of what’s happening, while the Swedish focus more on the goal or outcome.”
So, while the Englishman will notice “John is running at a very brisk pace,” the Swede will notice “John runs toward a very tall cliff.” And wouldn’t you want both in your arsenal?
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