Summary of How Language Shapes the Way We Think

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Imagine trying to proceed through life with no concept of numbers. While you likely learned to count as a child, some languages lack fundamental numeracy. Watch Lera Boroditsky’s fascinating overview to discover how the language you speak colors your thoughts and perceptions and why linguistic explorations are imperative to cultural understanding.

About the Speaker

Cognitive scientist Lera Boroditsky is an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego. She is editor in chief of Frontiers in Cultural Psychology. 



Language is a medium through which humans can communicate complicated ideas. The sounds, vocabularies and structures of the world’s roughly 7,000 languages vary significantly. Studies have found that language has the power to shape human thinking in intriguing ways. For instance, aboriginal inhabitants of Pormpuraaw in northeast Australia exhibit a powerful sense of direction. Their language, Kuuk Thaayorre, has no words for “left” or “right.” Thus, speakers use cardinal directions to describe position and direction. For example, a Kuuk Thaayorre speaker might say, “There’s an ant on your southwest leg.” Moreover, Kuuk Thaayorre speakers tend to organize&#...

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