Previously published in Examiner
conclusion of the language series
How language affects the way we think continued
Dr. Boroditsky says that we can also see how language affects thinking outside the lab in everyday life. She says if you go to an art gallery, the paintings will be affected by the language of the artist. The example she uses is the personification of death in a painting. If the artist is German and death is masculine in that language, then it is more likely that artist will paint death as a man. On the other hand, a Russian will more than likely paint death as a woman since the word death is feminine in that language.
Dr. Boroditsky states that other studies have shown, “the effects of language on how people construe events, reason about causality, keep track of numbers, understand material substance, perceive and experience emotion, reason about other people’s minds, choose to take risks, and even in the way they choose professions and spouses. Taken together, these results show that linguistic processes are pervasive in most fundamental domains of thought, unconsciously shaping us from the nuts and bolts of cognition and perception to our loftiest abstract notions and major life decisions. 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”
Bottom line: The feminists of the 1960’s and 70’s were well ahead of their time in their view that language does affect the way we think. By changing how we speak we in turn will change how we think. What that means for the english language is that by employing a gender neutral language, we eliminate the male bias in the english language and facilitate a leap in the direction of gender equality in our society.
For courses on Language, Cognition and Perception in Montreal, McGill University has excellent courses and diplomas and degrees, in neuroscience, behavioural sciences, health sciences and psychology.
Department of Psychology Concordia University – Cognitive Science