How Does Language Shape The Way We Think

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In her article, How Does Our Language Shape the Way We Think, Lera Boroditsky (2009) explains how the results of her experiments support the idea that the structure of language shapes the way we think. In one of her experiments, she found that English speakers would place cards showing temporal progression in temporal order from left to right, Hebrew speakers would place them right to left, and that the Kuuk Thaayorre would place them from east to west. This shows that the written language affects how time is represented to them. In another one of her experiments, she asked German and Spanish speakers to describe some items and found that the masculinity or femininity of the noun in their respective languages affects how it is ultimately described. This can also be seen in how artists represent the human form of abstract entities like death. Boroditsky concludes that “Language is central to our experience of being human, and the languages we speak profoundly shape the way we think, the way we see the world, the way we live our lives.” (Core reader p. 49) I would like to add that language is also the foundation of a person’s culture, pride, and self by exploring articles written by Eric Liu, Amy Tan, and Gloria Anzaldua. In his book, The Accidental Asian, there is a chapter called Notes of a Native Speaker: Growing Up Across Racial and Cultural Divides, where Eric Liu describes his assimilation. His parents “didn’t tell [him] to do anything except to be a good boy,” (C.R. p.62) so there he was, at a fork in the road between being the typical Asian and the atypical Asian. As he comments later on, “neither was as much a creature of free will as a human being ought to be,” (C.R. p. 69) but the promise of fitting in, wooing girls, and ... ... middle of paper ... ...xpressing her Chinese culture. Mastering a second language allows her to articulate her and her mother’s thoughts; it is a foundation for her pride and a foundation to express herself. For Gloria Anzaldua, instead of choosing one language over the other, she chose a mix of the two and fights for it. She realized the value of her language when she lost it and now treasures it. The kind of Spanish she speaks is neither English nor Spanish, but both. It is overflowing with culture from Medieval Spain, France, Germany, etc., just from the origins of the words. It is her pride and a representation of herself, fighting and living. In conclusion, in addition to Lera Boroditsky’s article proving that the structure of language affects how we think, the articles by Eric Liu, Amy Tan, and Gloria Anzaldua show how language is a foundation for a person’s culture, pride, and self.
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