Scientists are sure: you need to be extremely careful with your decision to learn a foreign language. Not only can it open up new perspectives at work, it can also change how you think, how you feel, and even completely change your personality. These are the conclusions reached independently by groups of scientists who have arranged experiments and polls among people in different parts of the world.
In one of our recent articles, we already talked about how colors are perceived differently in different cultures. So, in Russian, it would be very rash to call a person blue and blue, while in English it just means that the person is sad. In addition, in many languages a separate word for the color blue simply does not exist - there is only "light blue". And in Japanese it is just one of the shades of green.
When changing the language, sensations and perception of the world also change. So, you can hear from bilinguals who speak both Russian and English that Russian is more emotional, while English is capacious. Also, people who switch from their native language to French often note that they feel more collected at the same time, and if their second language is Spanish, then when they switch to Spanish, it becomes easier for them to be open to people and easier to make new acquaintances.
One study involved asking bilinguals (English and Spanish) to describe themselves in writing. So, when people wrote about themselves in Spanish, they described themselves in relation to their family, their relatives and described their hobbies. And when they wrote about themselves in English, they described themselves in terms of their employment - what they did, what they achieved, how they spend the day. Obviously, each language has its own priorities, which are directly reflected in everyday life.
“Language cannot be separated from culture,” commented Nyran Ramirez-Esparza, one of the organizers, on the results of this experiment. "You speak the language and at the same time place yourself in this culture and look at the world through the prism of this culture."
Another study back in 1964 was conducted among 65 bilinguals who spoke English and French. Participants were shown a series of illustrations and asked to write short stories to describe the illustrations. Comparing stories in different languages then, scientists noticed a clear trend: in English, participants talked about women who achieved something, who experienced physical abuse, who faced accusations and verbal aggression from their parents and who tried to get rid of guilt. French stories, based on the same illustrations, have narrated about how the elders dominate the younger generation, about feelings of guilt and verbal skirmishes with their peers - friends, colleagues, or family.
This suggests that depending on the language we speak, we can evaluate the same events in different ways. If we compare Russian and English, this also becomes noticeable. For example, in Russian there are many impersonal and passive constructions (“It's light on the street”, “The document was signed”, “The project was founded in 2018”), while in English most situations are described from an active position (“The sun is shining "- the sun is shining," We signed the document "- we signed the document," I started the project back in 2018 "- I started the project in 2018), as passive constructions sound more artificial.
In addition, depending on the language, even the way we perceive time changes. And this aspect, perhaps, does not depend on culture at all - solely on the language in which we speak.To test this theory, scientists set up an experiment among Swedes and Spaniards, and at the same time among bilinguals who spoke both languages and were familiar with both cultures. All of them were shown two videos - on one, the container was slowly filling with liquid, on the second, a person was drawing lines. The videos were in different languages, in those that were understandable to the audience.
As a result, it turned out that the Swedes very accurately determined the time during which the container was filled with liquid - they clearly determined when it was half full and when it was full. But the Spaniards thought that the more fully the container was filled, the slower the liquid was poured into it.
With the lines, it was also not all unambiguous. The Spaniards (including the billing people who watched the video in Spanish) correctly determined that each of the lines was drawn in 3 seconds. And the Swedes thought that longer lines took longer to draw.
“By and large, when you become bilingual, you have the opportunity to see the world from a different point of view,” says Panos Atanasopulus, co-author of this study. “You become more plastic in terms of perception of reality.”
For those wishing to improve their knowledge of another language, we published in due time 15 useful tipsthat will help you learn any foreign language.