Language Shapes How We Think (TED Video)

If you’ve ever stayed abroad for a longer period, it’s probably an experience you treasure. Different cultures shape their people in different ways – and language is a huge factor.

In Swedish we don’t just say “aunt” and “uncle” – we have to specify “father-sister / mother-sister” and “father-brother / mother-brother”. We also often exemplify linguistic differences by stating that “eskimos have thirty words for ‘snow’”. This implies that how we abstract the world through our language is a reflection of how we view it. But can it also be the other way around?

Read this post and watch the TED talk by economist Keith Chen for a fascinating explanation on quantifiable differences in how we act as an effect of how we speak. The examples from the Chinese, English and Greek languages and cultural behavior are thought-provoking. And to me they speak volumes about how we should always strive to understand other people’s perspectives when we interact – whether in business or just in life in general.

Have you experienced this kind of differences in ways of thinking based on culture and language? 

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