Friday 5 April 2019

My Linguistic Relativity thoughts!

I always believed that language helps or drive our thought process. But does an increased vocabulary change the way a person thinks? I'm not entirely sure about it! However it will drive for knowledge, conscious or not, that will leads to a larger vocabulary. A larger vocabulary may facilitate learning - example Nandu, my 10 year old son— he can connect ideas and information better. And knowing (and using) more words can help him communicate those ideas better.

If language can alter one's thought-paths, then certain languages constrain thought to a greater degree than other languages. The reasoning is simple: if our mother-tongue uses abstract terms to define concepts, one must first translate that abstraction to be able to parse it more effectively. This translation is, by its very definition, a constraint.

The native language we speak may determine how your brain solves mathematical puzzles, according to a new study. Brain scans have revealed that Chinese speakers rely more on visual regions than English speakers when comparing numbers and doing sums. Interesting!!  Our mother tongue may influence the way problem-solving circuits in our brains develop, suggest the researchers. But they add that different teaching methods across cultures, or genes, may also have primed the brains of Chinese and English speakers to solve equations differently.

I think most of Indian language, including my mother-tongue  Malayalam, speakers will be having more activity in the visual and spatial brain centre - visuo-premotor association network. The researches suggests that the native English speakers have more activity in the language network known as perisylvian cortices in the left half of the brain. This might be different to the first and second generation 
migrators. I particularly noticed my son's ability of visually thinking about things, but could it be a bit of hereditary 'genes " from us? My wife is pretty good at learning new languages. I speak three languages proficiently but she speaks four. However, I think I'm more of a visual person than my wife :) Unfortunately my  son speaks only 'English' though his parents are multilingual. We still trying to teach him Malayalam, our mother-tongue!

Another thought!

People who suffer some kind of brain damage that stops them using language can still think just fine. It may be that some people think more verbally and others visually; these are really just tools for the thought process;  probably even someone who was blind from birth and then suffered the additional problem of damaging the language centres of their brain, would still be able to think, although it's hard to imagine what that would be like.

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