Human beings communicate using a dazzling range of languages that differ in several ways. The languages spoken by different people are the means that permeates the social life through cultural transmission. It is the core of social psychology where people interact socially, identifies their personality, and change their attitude. In social psychology, language is a channel which plays a vital role in stimulus and response. Human beings reason based on the words they comprehend in the language spoken hence the more the words, the more the thoughts. Because of language comprehension, people have distinct linguistic thoughts and idea. When an individual is exposed to the linguistic categories of a language, the line of thought changes significantly hence people acquire specific habits of thought which are instrumental in shaping the individuals experience. This paper argues that language can influence our thoughts and values because by changing the way we talk, we can change the way we think.
To start with, the fitness of the language one speaks has a significant influence on how effectively we process the thoughts, learn the tenets of a language and make decisions. It influences the way we talk and the way we think because it fine-tunes the language structure of a speaker to reliably represent information and the knowledge acquired in a language (Bailey, 2013). Language influences the speakers cognitive fitness by biasing the values which play a regulatory role in the processing of the preferences, behaviors, outcomes, and the choices a speaker makes. Our thoughts and the way we speak are influenced by the values conveyed by the language in enabling our understanding and the way we adjust to the changing world. The language dictates the way we speak and think because we inherit the traditional beliefs and predetermined values of a language and through their habitual use of these traditions and values, they trap our process of thought in the past and bind us to the present where we live.
Furthermore, our body properties and the structure of the social and physical environment contributes to shaping our thoughts, behavior and the way we talk. Language establishes metaphorical mappings of the experiences we face and represent them as concepts that are coded by the vocabulary of a language. The brains cognitive processing reflects these mappings of relational experiences with the events in the environment constructed through language, concepts, and ideas. Language, therefore, influences our thoughts as we facilitate consistent reflections by the acquisition of reliable information and processing it efficiently into an organized knowledge.
Grammatical gender influences how speakers of a language think about objects or things. For instance, languages such as Spanish and German have different classifications where nouns are classified as either masculine and feminine. Russian speakers treat chairs as masculine and beds as feminine in their grammar. Fromkin, Rodman, and Hyams (2013) observe that some psychologists have suggested that speakers of gender-marking languages think about having gender the way people or animals have. For instance, in Spanish, key is feminine while a bridge is masculine. In comparison, Spanish and German speakers view items based on grammatical gender differently which indicates how language influence thoughts and the way we speak.
Fromkin et al. (2013) note that when Spanish and German speakers are asked to describe various objects using adjectives in English, Spanish speakers describes bridge using masculine terms such as dangerous, strong, and sturdy while German speakers use feminine terms such as beautiful, elegant, pretty and slender. It has also been noted that despite the absence of grammatical gender in English common nouns, there are objects that are given a grammatical gender. For example, English speakers refer to a ship as she. This indicates that regardless of language spoken, human beings tend to anthropomorphize objects especially when the language has grammatical gender. This idea clearly indicates that language can influence our thoughts and values because different languages view a similar object using different grammatical gender.
Bailey, C. E. (2013). Mind Code: How The Language We Use Influences the Way We Think. Lake Mary, FL: GIST Publishing.
Fromkin, V., Rodman, R., & Hyams, N. M. (2013). An Introduction to Language (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
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