Cognitive Psychologist Talks about Languages Shaping Our Minds

In 29 January 2018 NPR’s Podcast “Lost in Translation” Dr. Lera Boroditsky, a cognitive science professor at the University of California, San Diego, talked about the power that language has over us in shaping our thinking. She argued that “features like grammatical gender and reading direction can have a real effect on the way we think.” Here is her recorded keynote speech, a more academic style presentation from Onward Conference 2017:


Abstract: “Humans communicate with one another using 7,000 or so different languages, and each language differs from the next in innumerable ways. Do people who speak different languages think differently? Do languages merely express thoughts, or do they secretly shape the very thoughts we wish to express? Are some thoughts unthinkable without language? The question of whether the languages we speak shape the ways we think has been at the center of controversy for centuries, and with good reason. At stake are basic questions all of us have about ourselves, human nature, and reality. Why do we think the way we do? Why does the world appear to us the way it does? I will discuss research conducted around the world and focus on how language shapes the way we think about space, time, number, causality, and agency.”

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