Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What If You Had Multilingual Brain Power?


Hablas Espaol?

Do you speak any other languages? Maybe you've considered how good it would feel to be able to speak to people in another language, but did you know it also expands the range of your possible thoughts? It's true. There are concepts in each language that don't exist in others, as well as different expressions. These can give you new ways to think, and change your perspective on things.

Changing Your Perspective Through Language

It is no coincidence that many Americans see money as something created, rather than as a static quantity to be divided up. English, after all, is one of the few languages that speaks of "making" money. In most languages, the verb used is "to gain," or "to take," or "to get." Each of these affect the ways in which people think about money. Personally, I think "making money" is a very healthy perspective.

In Spanish, you are not thirsty or cold or afraid. You say "I have thirst (yo tengo sed)", "I have coldness (yo tengo frio)," or "I have fear (yo tengo miedo)." So what is the difference?

Did you know that the best therapists will tell you to stop saying or thinking things like "I am afraid?" It creates too much identification with the feeling. It is healthier to say "I feel fear." You are a human; fear, like all feelings, is just a temporary visitor.

Can you see how other languages can give you other perspectives? You might feel differently about decision making if you only had to "take a decision" ("tomar un decision" in Spanish)" instead of "make a decision." And the German word "angst," (roughly; a feeling of existential anxiety) might immediately pinpoint how you feel, when you can't quite express it in English.

Better Understanding Through Language

You gain not just words when you learn a language, but the ability to understand things better? Who can speak more precisely about snow; someone with three or four words for it (snow, sleet, powder); or an eskimo with 23 words for it? And which is more efficient, the German "zeitgeist" (roughly; the taste and outlook of a period or generation), or the paragraph of English you'd need to say the same thing?

Other Advantages Of Learning A Language

Did you know that most people experience a general improvement in memory from studying a language? There's more. Are you geting older? It has also been demonstrated that you can halt the age-related decline in mental function by learning a new language. You can tuck that little tip away for later in life, or better yet, start learning a new language today.

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