Does Language Create and Shape our Thoughts?

"Charlemagne is reputed to have said that to speak another language is to possess another soul,"says the co-author of a recent Harvard study which suggests people's opinions and preferences toward ethnic groups vary depending on which language they use to express their thoughts. This suggests language is not only a tool for communication, but also actually serves to create and shape our thoughts and feelings.

Since implicit attitudes lead to outward social behaviors, all this leads to a bigger question as to whether we might actually change our likes and dislikes based on the language we use. Results of the IAT, the Implicit Association Test indicated preferences undeniably differed for test subjects who first took the test in one language, then took the same test again in another language with which they were already familiar.

It was the 1930s when Linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf first suggested language can determine thought. Now, the question of whether or not our attitudes are fixed or can actually shift based on the language we choose and use may open a significant door to reconsideration of how we see and judge the archetypal Other in our everyday ways of being.

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