How language shapes the way we think | Lera Boroditsky

  • Published on May 2, 2018
  • There are about 7,000 languages spoken around the world -- and they all have different sounds, vocabularies and structures. But do they shape the way we think? Cognitive scientist Lera Boroditsky shares examples of language -- from an Aboriginal community in Australia that uses cardinal directions instead of left and right to the multiple words for blue in Russian -- that suggest the answer is a resounding yes. "The beauty of linguistic diversity is that it reveals to us just how ingenious and how flexible the human mind is," Boroditsky says. "Human minds have invented not one cognitive universe, but 7,000."
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Comments • 3 594

  • nahid darvishzade
    nahid darvishzade 2 days ago


  • KidFlash Semantyx
    KidFlash Semantyx 3 days ago

    Does anyone have any inclination as to the best objective language for our brain?

  • Hisham Issa
    Hisham Issa 4 days ago

    8:53 haha nice

  • Maximino Juarbe
    Maximino Juarbe 6 days ago

    This is a really interesting topic and I tend to agree because it is kind of logical and reasonable. But may be She stretched it a bit because as a native Spanish speaker is perfectly fine for me to say "me rompí el brazo" I broke my arm even when it was an accident.

  • 赵俊然
    赵俊然 11 days ago

    Behind the language is the culture.

  • Chris Bauman
    Chris Bauman 12 days ago +1

    From your point of view, how can speakers in one language learn to think in another?

  • Bill Lee
    Bill Lee 14 days ago

    This was very interesting and it is one of the most enjoyable presentations that I have ever witnessed on TED.

  • Pizzacato
    Pizzacato 16 days ago

    This lady is amazing

  • Abdarramán Omeya
    Abdarramán Omeya 16 days ago

    I really appreciated her delivery. She made it very easy to understand a complicated subject

  • rollon613
    rollon613 17 days ago

    I decided to watch the video when I saw the beautiful dress. How about you?

  • Sergius Vysokochtimiy
    Sergius Vysokochtimiy 18 days ago

    I absolutely agree with this woman when she talks about the difference between people. Women, men, children, Russians, Americans, we are not the same! And we must maintain this diversity in order to sustain life on earth.

  • Jaded Wong
    Jaded Wong 21 day ago +1

    Actually Chinese has also very different structure from English

  • Mythagoras
    Mythagoras 23 days ago

    It's like the female Sam Harris

  • kantemir schogen
    kantemir schogen 24 days ago

    The modern languages have lost the semantics , we have to make so much noise in order to explain such small things nowadays to eachother,no social mind is created with new linguistics.

  • Angie Estacio
    Angie Estacio 25 days ago

    Good video

  • McLean Campbell
    McLean Campbell 26 days ago

    Okay bahktin

  • Edward Cabaniss
    Edward Cabaniss 28 days ago

    Would this qualify as a discussion about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis/ Language Relativity? I would be very interested to know if Dr. Boroditsky subscribes to the strong hypothesis or the weak hypothesis.

  • TomikoPL
    TomikoPL 29 days ago

    "To know enemy's language is to know the enemy".

  • Seppe Zimmerer
    Seppe Zimmerer 29 days ago

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  • mgknitaholic
    mgknitaholic Month ago +1

    “A rose by any other name would smell a sweet...” does nothing for her talk. Shakespeare was a part owner of The Globe theatre. Their main competition was a theatre called The Rose, *which had a sewage problem.* Shakespeare wasn’t making a comment on the way a flower smells, he was making a joke about the state of his competitor’s facility.

  • Kayleigh Przygoda
    Kayleigh Przygoda Month ago +2

    THIS is why I love Linguistics!! :) so true language has such power over our perception of the world we live in

  • Lionheart352
    Lionheart352 Month ago +2

    My god this comment section is filled with self-aggrandizement

  • TEAS TubeSeries
    TEAS TubeSeries Month ago

  • kaluq
    kaluq Month ago

    Whereas Russian distinguishes between 'light blue' and 'dark blue', in my parents' language (Makassarese), the language distinguishes between 'regular blue' and 'really light blue that is close to white'. The language also categorically divides purple, green and red in the same way it does with blue. Of course, there are more colors, but not basic colors. And originally, there was no equivalent to the color brown. Just as in the national language, Indonesian, 'Chocolate' is used for brown.

  • 2012daffyduck
    2012daffyduck Month ago

    The statements she puts out are so generic....

  • wundermum88
    wundermum88 Month ago

    Lera Boroditsky, I discovered you via your Ted talk just now and I think you're the perfect person to talk with about something I've always been curious about. How do languages, that don't have gender-specific nouns and pronouns, affect the degree of egalitarianism within social values, culture, politics (and vice versa)? In the Philippines, the pronouns have no gender. So when we speak of a "he" or a "she" we use "siya" for both. Even when we speak of Divine presence we don't use "He" or "She" we use "Siya" and therefore the concept of Divine Presence is not limited by human constructs (superiority, misogyny, etc.) of gender. In pre-colonial Philippines, the society was egalitarian and last names were passed down through the lines of mothers, not fathers. It was only with the arrival and colonization of Spain that their ideas of gender specific nouns and probably gender bias concepts began to infiltrate the psyche of the people. Including that of the spanish concepts of machismo.

    Thanks for your work. I look forward to hearing and reading more.

  • Hirotomo Oikawa
    Hirotomo Oikawa Month ago

    The langage is invisible, why this emotion.

  • Hirotomo Oikawa
    Hirotomo Oikawa Month ago

    Since J.Rousseau nobody studies the origine of langage, we use our langage without knowing the origine, its reality

  • Hirotomo Oikawa
    Hirotomo Oikawa Month ago

    With langage, we communicate much or less.but its destin of our langage.

  • Ariel Royzin
    Ariel Royzin Month ago

    Russian speaker here. We have a way of conjugating nouns to create verbs that is very beautiful. An example is the word «Вечер» (pronounced “Vecher”) which means “evening.” We can take that word and say «Вечереет» (“Vechereyet”), which one might translate as “Dawning”...obviously, no one speaks that way in American English. The most literal way of thinking of the latter is that the sun is setting; however, the way I interpret that word is that the air is becoming more crisp with the evening approaching, the feeling of transitioning from a long workday is well on its way, and (layering here my Jewish roots) realizing that many on Friday are gathering for a meal and candles are being lit for the Sabbath.
    Call me a hopeless romantic, but Russian is so poetic like that!

  • KillKa
    KillKa Month ago +1

    Russian has a separate widely-spoken word for light-green as well, salatoviy(lit. of the color of salad) but it's not as popular as goluboy.

  • Igor Smolovski
    Igor Smolovski Month ago

    I am a native speaker of Russian, and I must disagree with what she said about the colour blue - for me all those shades of blue she showed are blue. Goluboy is not a separate colour, it is just a shade of blue (perhaps with some other colours mixed in, I don't know how light mixing works), like azure in English. I see no difference with English in this regard. If she'd asked me to pick a siniy ('blue') rectangle from the picture, ANY of the four would have fitted that description in Russian because they are basically all blue (vse siniye). The leftmost one (and only that one, by the way, not two) is a shade of blue that could be described as goluboy (sky blue) like in an artist's palette, for example, where you need to distinguish between different shades of the same colour. But again, goluboy (sky blue) in Russian is not a colour within its own right, like prime colours are, it is simply a shade of siniy (blue). Goluboy starts to sort of play a role only if you need to DISTINGUISH between all the different shades of siniy (blue) - when deciding which shade of blue to paint your walls, for instance, and you need to pin-point the exact colour code so that they could mix some paint for you. Just like in English you can drill down into different shades and get sky-blue, cobalt blue, aquamarine, teal, cyan and so on. That is the way my male Russian speaking brain works with regard to colour perception. So there you go, I suspect the stuff she talked about regarding other languages is probably just as much bullshit as this.

  • Anouk Rogge
    Anouk Rogge Month ago

    She made so many interesting points! I'm currently learning about languages and this gave me a lot of new, useful information.

  • Abdulaziz Abduqodirov

    I haven't figured out that why we need to use grammatic gender. For example in our language - Uzbek language, one doesn't need to think about gender. In detail, translation of sentences "she is walking" and "he is walking" are same in Uzbek language. Uzbek language has no grammatic rule about gender. I think it's absolute unnecessary to mind about genders while speaking. German language also really surprised me with its three types of articles: Die, Das, Der. I reckon it's time to get rid of these redundant rules

  • Sumi Aisha
    Sumi Aisha Month ago

    This is so fascinating!

  • wadeema x.vvad.x
    wadeema x.vvad.x Month ago

    tok essay anyone??

  • Red-Yellow Dog
    Red-Yellow Dog Month ago +1

    I like this lecture. She's very beautiful. I want to see her one more time.

  • Yasir Khan
    Yasir Khan Month ago

    Who's here after watching arrival movie?

  • v mohan Raj
    v mohan Raj Month ago

    That was wonderful shaping my mind . Ma'am

  • v mohan Raj
    v mohan Raj Month ago

    That was wonderful shaping my mind . Ma'am

  • red half
    red half Month ago

    I can speak Chinese and English. Funny thing i find myself being so outgoing and energetic while speaking English, thought I am actually super shy and calm person.

  • Shahid Farooq
    Shahid Farooq Month ago

    reminds me of a persian verse by sadi - an eminent poet of persia

  • 美夢
    美夢 Month ago +1

    I loved the phrase " To have a second language is to have a different soul"!! I love the talk, it was so interesting.

  • TK Maytus
    TK Maytus Month ago +9

    Speak fluent in two languages which is Thai and English but can curses over ten lol

  • lý hiếu
    lý hiếu Month ago

    I am speaking English, Vietnamese and also learning Russian! I have to say languages do change the way i i think about everthing

  • Daniel frankell
    Daniel frankell Month ago +1

    Clearly English public speaking ...

  • NikasMind
    NikasMind Month ago +1

    And this is just scratching the surface. Enjoyed this. I had no idea that there were as many as 7000 languages on Earth. I wonder if she counts dialects of the same country as, say, China, as separate languages. I speak 5-6 languages and I can see how it affects my psyche.

  • Dulce María García

    in Spanish you can say he broke the vase, because he actually did it

    • Dorothy Anne
      Dorothy Anne Month ago

      Yeah, you can. That's why she clarified "more likely to," not that you can't.

  • FrilheleQandege
    FrilheleQandege 2 months ago +1

    Every language has its own cosmovision. Diversity of point of view enrich the human mind.

  • A J
    A J 2 months ago

    Word creates world, choose powerfully.

  • Bridget Nash
    Bridget Nash 2 months ago +1

    I'm watching this video for an assignment at school. This really helps. It was eloquently spoken.

  • 王珂
    王珂 2 months ago

    The gender thing in language.... I'm from China and there are almost no word oriented with any gender, by which I mean
    irrelevant words that implies metaphor of any part of gender. I guess that's why women get equally treated almost the same time as the civilized movement in 1911.

  • warrior
    warrior 2 months ago

    A Georgian would say about that vase that someone unintentionally broke that vase.

  • P F
    P F 2 months ago

    Not interested with the talked about topic very boring

  • Math Dude
    Math Dude 2 months ago +1

    I'm cognitive scientist and I'm agree about you but how much language affect the brain that's a intricate questions , we are searching the answers...

  • John Chege
    John Chege 2 months ago

    I wonder what kind of discussion Robert Sapolsky and Lera Borodisky would have.

  • S K
    S K 2 months ago

    hi parent

  • Majed Ahmed
    Majed Ahmed 2 months ago

    More: How do you speak of langues when you dont know the origin, which the beginning or end Langues...! you speak about langues ho wit been used but Knot of it .. not what Is is like you go round and round...! you just firing blank..dont know what you saying ..! bla bla bla
    you can say the same word but you will never know the intention...! So intention matter which influence no matter which languages and how we say it ...! its the hidden which is running the show not what said or how...!
    A donkey still donkey even if he old PhD.....and speak many langues...! just another actor good or bad still actor...!

  • Majed Ahmed
    Majed Ahmed 2 months ago

    we take for granted what been said or written is true is True...its only information; knowledge But : not your own experience ...!
    the Principle factor of Science is to have doupt and question...but not what she say...! its all dead have no values

  • Majed Ahmed
    Majed Ahmed 2 months ago

    its how we think shaped us.....not the content ...its how not what we say ...!
    in nature there is no how or why ...only in human mind..!
    there different dimension to thinking no matter what you speak..---! its the quality...! depth...: Essences... !