How Language Shapes Thought. The languages we speak affect our perceptions of the world. By Lera Boroditsky. I am standing next to a five-year old girl in. Request PDF on ResearchGate | How Language Shapes Thought | The languages we speak affect our Lera Boroditsky at University of California, San Diego. Cognitive Scientist Lera Boroditsky Explains . Lera Boroditsky says in the TED Talk above, “you probably haven’t had that thought before.

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Let’s write comments in your language and use “Google Translate” together. Please refer to informative community guidelines on TED. Lera Boroditsky is an associate professor of cognitive science at University of California San Diego and editor in chief of Frontiers in Cultural Psychology.

She previously served on the faculty at MIT and at Stanford.


She once used the Indonesian exclusive “we” correctly before breakfast and was proud of herself about it all day. The comment field is common to all languages Let’s write comments in your language and use “Google Translate” together Please refer to informative community guidelines on TED.

How language shapes the way we think. There are about 7, 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.

So, I’ll be speaking to you using language This is one these magical abilities that we humans have. We can transmit really complicated thoughts to one another. So what I’m doing right now is, I’m making sounds with my mouth. I’m making tones and hisses and puffs.

Those air vibrations are traveling to you. I hope that’s happening. So because of this ability, we humans are able to transmit our ideas.

We’re able to transmit knowledge across minds. I can put a bizarre new idea in your mind right now. Now, if everything has gone relatively well in your life so far.


But now I’ve just made you think it. Now of course, there isn’t just one language in the world. And all the languages differ from one another in all kinds of ways. Some languages have different sounds. That begs the question:.

Does the language we speak shape the way we think? Now, this is an ancient question. People have been speculating boroeitsky this question forever. Charlemagne, Holy Roman emperor, said. But on the other hand, Shakespeare has Juliet say. A rose by any other name lamguage smell as sweet. Well, that suggests that maybe language doesn’t craft reality.

These arguments have gone back and forth for thousands of years. But until recently, there hasn’t been any data. Recently, in my lab and other labs around the world. So let me tell you about some of my favorite examples. I’ll start with an example from an Aboriginal community in Australia. These are the Kuuk Thaayorre people.

They live in Pormpuraaw at the very west edge of Cape York. What’s cool about Kuuk Thaayorre is. And when I say everything, I really mean everything. You would say something like. Or, “Move your cup to the north-northeast a little bit.

Lera Boroditsky

In fact, the way that you say “hello” in Kuuk Thaayorre is you say. And the answer should be. So imagine as you’re bproditsky around your day. But that would actually get you oriented pretty fast, right? Because you literally couldn’t get past “hello,”. In fact, people who speak languages like this stay oriented really well. They stay oriented better than we used to think humans could.

We used to think that humans were worse than other creatures. No; if your language and your culture trains you to do it. There are humans around the world who stay oriented really well. And just to get us in agreement.

I want you all to close your eyes for a second. Keep your eyes closed.

Lera Boroditsky: How Language Shapes Thought – The Long Now

OK, so you can open your eyes. I see you guys pointing there, there, there, there, there I don’t know which way it is myself You have not been a lot of help. So let’s just say the accuracy in this room was not very high. This is a big difference in cognitive ability across languages, right? Where one group — very distinguished group like you guys I could ask a five-year-old and they would know.


There are also really big differences in how people think about time. So here I have pictures of my grandfather at different ages. And if I ask an English speaker to organize shape. This has to do with writing direction. If you were a speaker of Hebrew or Arabic.

But how would the Kuuk Thaayorre. They don’t use words like “left” and “right. Let me give you hint. When we sat people facing south. When we sat them facing north.

When we sat them llera east. East to west, right? So for them, time doesn’t actually get locked on the body at all.

So for me, lantuage I’m facing this way. I’m facing this way, time goes this way For the Kuuk Thaayorre, time is locked on the landscape.

It’s a dramatically different way of thinking about time. Here’s another really smart human trick. Suppose I ask you how many penguins are there. Well, I bet I know how you’d borodisky that problem if you solved it.

You went, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. You named each one with a number. This is a little trick that you’re taught to use as kids.

You learn the number list and you learn how to apply it. A little linguistic trick. Well, some languages don’t do this. They’re languages that don’t have a word like “seven”.

In fact, people who speak these languages don’t count. So, for example, if I ask you to match this number of penguins. But folks who don’t have that linguistic trait can’t do that. Languages also differ in how they divide up the color spectrum Some languages have lots of words for colors. And languages differ in where they put boundaries between colors.

So, for example, in English, there’s a world for blue.