In a week where we have learned that being multi-lingual improves one’s ability to concentrate, solve problems and focus, it was an additional pleasure to learn that people who are bi-lingual are also less likely to suffer from dementia. Now this might seem like holiday news hocus pocus but, having read an extremely interesting article (‘Why being bilingual works wonders for your brain’) by Gaia Vince in The Guardian, I also learned that with each new language one learns, one acquires a new personality too!
According to scientists, it has been proven that multi-lingual people’s responses to questions and circumstances varies depending on the language mode they are in at the time.
Gaia Vince gave an example of an English / French bilingual person who is asked their favorite meal. They answer differently depending if they are asked in English or in French. If in English then their brains will associate more with eating in the UK, and suggest meals commonly eaten in England. whereas if in French, they will tend to select typical French dishes.
Taking this further, it is commonly known that German people tend to be rather strategic and goal oriented, whereas English people tend to be more action oriented. And, apparently, all this can now be explained via language. The English can just add ‘-ing’ to the end of a verb and leave it at that, while the more complex German grammer requires a reason to resolve it nicely. such as: (English) John is running versus (German) John is running to the bus stop.
So what does this mean for those of us that write important communications for multi-lingual environments? The bottom line is that it is not just a person’s ability to read and understand or speak in another language that is important but how they will react depending in which language they receive the message.
So, dear reader, I suppose that you are reacting (notice my use of the ‘ongoing active’ -ing) differently to this blog depending if you are bilingual or if you are in the minority group of humans (+/-40%) that only speak one language?
Have a good week,