“Some findings on how language can affect thinking:
- Russian speakers, who have more words for light and dark blues, are better able to visually discriminate shades of blue.
- Some indigenous tribes say north, south, east and west, rather than left and right, and as a consequence have great spatial orientation.
- The Piraha, whose language eschews number words in favor of terms like few and many, are not able to keep track of exact quantities.
- In one study, Spanish and Japanese speakers couldn’t remember the agents of accidental events as adeptly as English speakers could. Why? In Spanish and Japanese, the agent of causality is dropped: “The vase broke itself,” rather than “John broke the vase.”
On the other hand, this may also imply that a multi-lingual speaker may have a wider variety of thought and perspective than someone who knows just one language.
So maybe we should all make resolutions to learn a new language in 2011?