Does Your Language Influence Your Thoughts?

Linguistics is the study of languages and how they intersect with culture.  It’s a very interesting topic and one that I was very much interested in whilst I was in college. It was a random course to fill up credits, however I became quite intrigued by many of the theories that linguistics explores.

One of the theories that I was most intrigued by was the fact that languages may influence the way people THINK. The easiest example for explaining this concept is in terms of color. Certain languages have one word for a certain range of colors (for example, red and orange), and therefore people consider these colors as one, or very closely related. While English has two words for these distinct (to us) colors, others have only one. Therefore these colors are much more closely related in people’s minds who speak that language.

A study has definitively concluded that Russians are faster to distinguish different shades of blue faster than English speakers thanks to the fact that Russian divides up darker blues from lighter blues with two different words. However, it is still debated whether or not the actual language and vocabulary has an effect on memory and categorization.

Japanese speakers tend to group objects by their material or texture rather than by their object shape, which is a very interesting concept.

Another example is between German and English, and how each language tends to place emphasis on either actions or their consequences. According to this article, “Where did the thief go?” will get a different answer than “How did she get away?”.

It’s also said that Bilingual language speakers may get the benefits of “both worlds” so to speak, as their thinking can often be more flexible. Learning a new language could help you to experience some of the effects along with many other benefits.

Even just learning a new language at home for fun can bring these benefits, especially if you keep at it. Learning a language is hard work but can pay off immensely. I’ve had a lot of success just from using Rocket Languages, which is an excellent and fairly-priced language learning program that has garnered a lot of attention recently.  There have been several blog posts and reviews written recently and it’s clear that it’s a very decent language learning program. It’s certainly a better bargain than the highly expensive Rosetta Stone, which isn’t even a traditional teaching method and many people have trouble with.

All in all, languages are a huge world and a uniquely human concept. If you’re interested in more about linguistic relativity, check out the Sapir Whorf hypothesis.

Are There Good Reasons to Abandon Social Media?

Social media sites continue to proliferate, with some supplanting existing sites and others opening up new avenues to explore. The question facing users is whether or not to participate in social media. In addition to being time-consuming, it can easily be argued that sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin also strip away a level of personal privacy. In fact, there is a segment of the population suggesting the best course of action is to simply abandon social media sites. But, is that truly the best move, or are there measures anyone can take to control their online presence?

Most people recognize social media sites are continually undergoing changes. However, not all of those changes benefit users. Anyone using Facebook, for example, since its infancy can testify to the fact today’s site bears little resemblance to the pages greeting users in 2004. Advertising and data mining have, today, increasingly play bigger roles in social media sites. The other major players have followed Facebook’s example, often to the detriment of faithful users. Does that mean participants should quit social media? Not necessarily.

Companies now routinely scour social media sites when recruiting job candidates. Not having a presence on Linkedin, for example, means potential job seekers will never know about a large number of job openings. The same sites make it possible for anyone to keep abreast of rapidly evolving business conditions, not only in their own fields, but also related ones. That level of awareness makes it possible for site visitors to be more responsive to consumer needs and expectations.

Of course, much of the traffic on social media sites is on a more personal level. Facebook users often use the site to easily stay in contact with far-flung family members and friends. Social media sites also encourage interactions with those sharing similar interests. Whether it’s business or hobby related, there are always other users who share interests. That sharing opens paths to new knowledge and a wider breadth of understanding in virtually any topic.

It’s also important to recognize that too much of anything can be detrimental, and that applies to social media sites. Users must find a balance between those contacts and others around them. So, while there are reasons where stepping away from social media may beneficial, there are also significant reasons to continue using the sites.