Education Policy Blog: How Does Our Language Shape the Way we Think?

June 22, 2009

Interesting to hear. Of course IMHO the tools we use to think with influence what and how we think. I try to get my students to think on this… with a variety of tools, but I thought of it as a practical rule of thumb, not in this manner. This will add to the discussion.

Education Policy Blog: How Does Our Language Shape the Way we Think?

For a long time, the idea that language might shape thought was considered at best untestable and more often simply wrong. Research in my labs at Stanford University and at MIT has helped reopen this question. We have collected data around the world: from China, Greece, Chile, Indonesia, Russia, and Aboriginal Australia. What we have learned is that people who speak different languages do indeed think differently and that even flukes of grammar can profoundly affect how we see the world. Language is a uniquely human gift, central to our experience of being human. Appreciating its role in constructing our mental lives brings us one step closer to understanding the very nature of humanity.

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