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Lera Boroditsky, “How Language Shapes Thought”

by Stewart Brand on October 27th, 02010

Podcasts

Languages are Parallel Universes

A Summary by Stewart Brand

“To have a second language is to have a second soul,” said Charlemagne around 800 AD. “Each language has its own cognitive toolkit,” said psychologist/linguist Lera Boroditsky in 2010 AD.

Different languages handle verbs, distinctions, gender, time, space, metaphor, and agency differently, and those differences, her research shows, make people think and act differently.

Take a sentence such as “Sarah Palin read Chomsky’s latest book.” In Russian, the verb would have to indicate whether the whole book was read or not. In Turkish the verb would signify whether the speaker saw the event personally, or it was reported, or it was inferred. Russians have two words for blue, and when those words are present in their mind, they can distinguish finer gradations of the color than English…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary here.