ruminates on these questions: "Do the languages we speak shape the way we think? Do they merely express
thoughts, or do the structures in languages (without our knowledge or consent)
shape the very thoughts we wish to express?" She says that "a flurry of new cognitive science research is showing that in fact, language
does profoundly influence how we see the world." Now, I'm not going to say there aren't some interesting (even fascinating) pieces of info in this op-ed, but really, all this emphasis on the "empirical work" that needs to be done on language is just boring. ("To demonstrate the causal role of language, what's needed are studies that
directly manipulate language and look for effects in cognition.")
When I was in college I was told that studying a second language would be good for me; it would get me another mind. Our students are no longer told that. I argued with a Spanish professor once that it is good for human beings to study another language (or more, if possible) because than that person can think about different things, and even think differently. For example, we don't have a working idea for hombre
in English. I asked her to play around with that for a while, but she claimed that wouldn't be useful; only the useful matters. But when I made a reference to a different culture, her ears perked up (without understanding). It seems not possible for a human being to be without language, but is it correct to say, as Boroditsky does, that "human natures too can differ dramatically"? This is imprecise on the big things, while searching for precision on the lesser matters. Is this where the empirical leads? I like the authors' mention of Charlemagne statement: "To have a second language is to have a second soul." It may be better thinking about why so many native (Bulgarian, German Spanish, et al) poets learned English just to be able to translate
the Poet into their language. Never mind Heidegger and such thinking about thinking, in a language.