Time and again, questions have been raised regarding the impact that the language has on ones thinking. Linguists and scientists continue to study whether or not the speakers of different language think differently. In the words of Flora Lewis, “Learning another language is not only learning new words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.” The language we speak shapes the way we think and influences the way we look at the world. The more languages we know, the more words we know and the better we understand the world. For example, There is no specific word for ravier which in French refers to a small dish, a few centimetre deep used for custard and chocolates.
It is not just the language or the thought, but culture that also plays a major role in the way we perceive things. There is a strong yet complex relationship between the language, the culture and the thoughts. Initially it was thought that languages just labelled the objects around but now it is considered that people speaking different languages perceive the world differently as people can identify and distinguish between the things only for which there are words in their language. Vocabulary of any language emphasizes on words that are significant to the corresponding culture; Chinese language clearly distinguishes each relationship and has specific words for each of their relatives on each of the parent’s side, while French language clearly distinguishes between the food items. Judging from these facts we can say that relationships are an important part of the Chinese culture and catering culture is more important in France. Thus, according to Federico Felini,
“A different language is a different vision of life.”
Knowing more than one language makes one a better person. Listed below are a few ways in which multilingualism impacts your personality and behavior
Improves the cognitive function.
It has been proved that children speaking more than one language develop a better process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. They are good at multitasking and solving problems and smarter and more confident.
Helps understanding cultures better.
Language changes with change in culture. Learning a new language gives an insight into another culture and another way of life. Learning a language helps understanding a place, its people, and the society better. It opens us up to new experiences. Learning a language before travelling to a new country lets you explore more. Proverbs are cultural treasure troves in any language and speak a lot about the culture and the society.
Ability to connect to more people easily.
Knowing more than one language lets you to easily interact with a broader range of people belonging to different cultures and speaking different languages. A person tends to express his feelings better in the language he knows and learning multiple languages will help you in understanding them better, and better understanding results into development of closer bonds. It will also make you more empathetic.
Appreciating literature and art.
The art and the literature works are most genuinely expressed in the original language and forms. The expressions are at times not properly captured in the translated copies and there also at times chances for misinterpretation. There also are many words that are unique to a language and there is no apt translation for them in other language. Thus knowing a particular language allows you to appreciate a novel, a song, a movie in the native language and original form.
Avoid misinterpretation and misunderstanding.
There are common words in various languages, but they do not necessarily mean the same in all the languages. If you are in a group of people speaking different languages and you say “Lets gift…….”, the phrase could possibly be correctly understood as “to give a present” only by a person speaking English. A person speaking German might understand it as “to give poison” and a person speaking Swedish might get confused if you meant “to give poison” or to marry”.
Knowing multiple languages will help you communicate better in a group and avoid unnecessary misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the words.
Languages broaden our horizons. It is never late to learn a new language.
“The language we do not know is a fortress sealed” – Marcel Proust