How language shapes the way we think | Lera Boroditsky

  • katma 1 May 2018
  • There are about 7,000 languages spoken around the world -- and they all have different sounds, vocabularies and structures. But do they shape the way we think? Cognitive scientist Lera Boroditsky shares examples of language -- from an Aboriginal community in Australia that uses cardinal directions instead of left and right to the multiple words for blue in Russian -- that suggest the answer is a resounding yes. "The beauty of linguistic diversity is that it reveals to us just how ingenious and how flexible the human mind is," Boroditsky says. "Human minds have invented not one cognitive universe, but 7,000."

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YORUMLAR • 5 433

  • Tristan Möller
    Tristan Möller 3 yıl önce +2

    If one culture couldn’t discover algebra because of their language missing number words, I wonder what our language misses and what we have yet to discover due to that.

  •  +207

    Different languages , similar results == there is human layer deeper than the language.

  • Dr. Ahmed Irfan Anwar

    This is one of the best TED talks I have listened to, being able to speak more than one language- I can definitely relate to this, I was actually thinking about this before & she presented the facts, Thanks a lot.

  • Saul Espinoza
    Saul Espinoza Yıl önce +575


  • Natasha Tarasova

    Absolutely agree. I studied Japanese for 5 years and I was noticing interesting things happening to my mind. The way I was perceiving reality shifted. It smelled different, it was differently colored, different air, different taste, different assumptions and expectations. Japanese language is so "block-like" and the verb always comes in the end. It's very schematic, very logical, very square. It gave me more clarity in the way I was thinking and the way I was formulating my sentences. It's a pity we are loosing so many different languages. They ARE other universes. I wish there would be a way to save and preserve them. I feel the same about religions - so so many beautiful philosophies are pushed to the corner and lost.

  • Han Nguyen
    Han Nguyen  +147

    One of my favorite talk so far! I love The way she conveys her messages, how she speaks slowly but shaped. What an immersive speak!

  • Johnny Daller
    Johnny Daller 3 yıl önce +3

    My mother tongue is Persian, and I speak English fluently. I learned driving on the right side of the road in Iran. When I moved to South Africa, I had to drive on the left side of the road. No problem so far. When I had passengers, and we spoke in English in the car, all went well. When some of my friends switch to speaking in Persian in the car, I subconsciously moved to the right side of the road scaring everyone in the car and on the road! Then I moved to Australia, and the same thing happens every now and then!

  • Egor Gorko

    “It is no nation that we inhabit, but a language. Make no mistake; our native toungue is our true fatherland.”

  • Angelo Brito

    Such a nice talk. Congrats to Lera on how she approached a so complex topic and made it easy for understanding. I would like to bring a reflection from myself to the table. I am Portuguese native speaker but I also speak English and a little bit of French and German. I could feel this difference on the way we think frequently based upon the context/culture in which we are trying to communicate with. I some times can only express a feeling or idea in Portuguese or English and many times I get misunderstood in German or French due to lack of "proficiency" which I say that the problem is not thinking in the proper way as that language requires. It is common to sound rude, invasive or completely misunderstood if we mix all these culture + languages rules to the equation but it also impact the message content and how easily people will get your message. That example of languages that can and can't count was a perfect example for this but even close related languages can differ so much. I can't imagine how I would do to communicate with that Australian Tribe. I am clueless about orientation without my GPS. HAHA

  • Nino P
    Nino P  +7

    Excellent and beautiful exposition on language diversity! Thank You Lera...

  • Julie's Sign Language Class

    I love this talk. As a speech therapist and as a learner of other languages, I revel in the bazillion aspects of language. I worked with hearing impaired kids in an area with vary little parental involvement. It was not unusual to sadly have deaf kids start school at 3 or 4 or 5 with absolutely no language...and because of their situations, you had to accept that they would never catch up. At the same time, I worked with a 4-year-old who had started on his own reading a 4th or 5th grade level book about animals. Then I have aging parent with dementia, so I see the loss of language and cognition. (Although my mom asked to have speech therapy, and is making great progress hanging on to a retrieving lost skills. Yeah, Mom!) Thanks for researching and sharing your research on a subject that is so close to my heart.

  • PeRK
    PeRK  +2

    This is that thing that blows your mind in linguistics 101, and then that you usually get past just a few months later. Far more striking is how similar our thought processes are. You'd expect a LOT more diversity of cognitive processes given just how diverse languages, and yet the differences we observe are minute, largely irrelevant in the larger scale of things.

  • Nero Bautista II
    Nero Bautista II 2 yıl önce +1

    "To have a second language is to have a second soul." -Charlemagne, for someone who speaks three languages fluently, this is so true. As a trilingual, you watch movies from three different countries, read books from three different languages, learn cultures of three origins, and forge relationships with from diverse cultures. Indeed, when you learn a new language, you acquire a new reality of something different, or a soul. Knowing more than one or two languages also helps you understand the history of humanity and how some cultures and people act and think in different ways. <3

  • Wolfie
    Wolfie Yıl önce +14

    I’ve learned 2 languages in addition to my mother tongue and the day I had the first dream in the language I was trying to learn was the day I knew I was beginning to really get it. I remember waking up like, “Woah! That just happened.” Different languages really do represent different ways of thinking. To me, one of the biggest challenges was saying things in the correct order-I’d say things backwards all the time 😂

  • Pat M.
    Pat M.  +15

    Great speech. Love her composure and how she explained everything in simple yet great detail.

  • Carmen Rocio Sanchez Huamansupa

    Awesome presentation, in this video we know what are the advantages to know a second language, also we can say that it can change our mind and our life.

  • Julie's Tales

    I think these findings have implications for language learning and assessment. So many students have to take English tests (TOEFL, IELTS) to get better opportunities in life and so many get lower scores not because they are difficult to understand when they speak English but because they don't sound 'natural enough'.

  • Jason Debono
    Jason Debono Yıl önce +5

    I was thinking that languages effect the way the speaker thinks for many years, they act like filters between the world around us and our minds, but I never heard someone explain it so well as this beautiful and sweet lady. Thank you dear lady and thank you "TED talks" in general :)

  • Harry TM
    Harry TM 2 yıl önce +6

    I really envy the people who so easily and calmly articulate their thoughts

  • Serenity Alii
    Serenity Alii Yıl önce +17

    Love this! How well thought out this was, the calmness in your voice, just everything!!