The article “How Does Language Shape the Way We Think?” is one of the most informative article on language and its relationship to people’s thoughts. The author Lera Borodistsky tries to determine throughout the article whether the language a person speaks affects the way that person thinks. From the examples that she gives and the evidence she presents in the article, it is very clear that the way people think is highly affected by the language those people speak. The thoughts of people are to a larger degree shaped by the type of language they speak.
In this passage, Lera Borodistsky claims that people who speak differently have different ways of describing the objects they see, the directions, colours, time, and other things they may experience. In addition, the author specifies that the grammar that people use depend on the language they speak. The formality of the language that people use is also different. The article provides the examples of the different languages spoken by people around the world. For instance, in Australia, the words west, east, south, and north could be used instead of the forward, back, right and left. There is also a difference in the way in which the different people describe the colours and even time. For instance, the Chinese speakers could describe their colours differently from the English ones. Also, the arrangement of the sentences differ among the different language speakers.
Lera Borodistsky clearly demonstrates that when a person learns a new language the thoughts of the person change, that individual will have a different view about some things. The author uses an experiment that she made in Stanford University as an example. In the university, the students are exposed to different types of languages. The verbs the students used changed because of the new languages learned. It affected the meaning of some of the words in the original language (Boroditsky 7). This can be explained by the fact that different people use different grammar which impacts the meaning of some sentences and some words.
The argument presented by Borodistsky, especially in the first part of the article, is convincing. She outlines the differences that exist among the language spoken by different people and the way they affect people’s thinking and the manner of presenting their ideas. The difference is very serious and convincing. According to Borodistsky, the fact that people think differently makes it hard to learn a new language. If people were thinking in the same way, then learning of a new language could be very easy. People do not think the same way because they do not use the same language.
Despite the argument put forward by Borodistsky, other studies show that language is shaped by the environment and the culture of a person. Therefore, for an individual to learn a different language, he/she should first learn the culture of the people who speak that language. Some of the sentences and the phrases used in some languages have been developed and used for many years. Some cultures could teach their people to be polite and generous. It could affect the way in which these people perceive their elders and other people in the society.
Other studies agree with Borodistsky’s finding that people from different cultures who speak different languages have different ways of thinking. They will always use their native languages for the most part of their lives. The language a person speaks affects the way he/she thinks mainly because of the environment and the culture. The parts of the different languages shape the way people evaluate information.
In my opinion, I agree with Lera Borodistsky’s argument. People’s thoughts and the language they speak have a mutual effect. For instance, children use their mother tongue as well as the things around them to establish the manner in which they view the world. It happens as they continue to grow. The thoughts people have can also affect the language they speak. The language we use has a great effect on how we present ideas, think, and even present our arguments. Language defines our lifestyle.
Unfortunately, at the end of the article, Borodistsky does not provide an insight on how to differentiate the effect that is due to culture and that caused by the native language. She only focusses her research on language and how it affects the thinking of different people who speak the language. However, this article is a very informative piece. It could be relevant to the language educators as well as the students who want to carry out their research on this topic. It is a good foundation to determine the relationship that exists between the language people speak and the way they think.
Boroditsky, Lera. “How Does Our Language Shape The Way We Think?.” Language: A Reader for Writers. Ed. Gita DasBender. New York, NY: Oxford U Press, 2014. pp. 2-11.