The Power of Language

Language is one of the most influential factors in our society today. During our most recent lab, a quote was presented that went, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”. I think that how language is used in every situation throughout society will affect the end result of that situation. Language is so powerful, especially when a person learns a language that isn’t their native one. If a person travels to a foreign land and consciously makes the effort to connect to the language and inherently the foreign culture, it will make the native people feel more connected to the person. They will also trust the person more because the foreigner is making an effort to understand and relate to their culture and language even as foreign as it may be. There are many societal affects that connect through sociolinguistics but recently, studies have begun to examine how the expansion of one’s ability to comprehend more than one language will actually affect a person’s brain make up. CNN met Pediatrician  Dr. Gwendolyn Delaney who says, “Studies have shown that children exposed to more than one language have greater tissue density in the areas of the brain related to language, memory and attention”. So not only does language have an effect on people and allows people to become more powerful in interactions, but if your parents speak to you in more than one language before the age of 5, your brain may have “greater tissue density in the areas of the brain related to language, memory and attention”. Today’s society is a place where language and culture must be employed more so we will increase our ability to connect to others’ societies and cultures.


2 thoughts on “The Power of Language”

  1. I couldn’t agree more that language connects us. I also enjoyed that quote that Erin posted in lab, it made a lot of sense to me. One question I have for you is how could we better implement linguistics into education? I know that in high school most kids have to take two or three years of a language and here at Wheaton we have to take two semesters of a foreign language. Most students at Wheaton find it a hassle to fulfill the foreign language requirement but I think it’s pretty cool that Wheaton wants us to be bilingual. On the other hand all of my friends at other universities and colleges don’t have a language requirement and because of this, most of them have forgotten the spanish or french they learned in high school. I think that foreign language should be a requirement at every college or university because it connects people on a level that allows us to understand our foreign neighbors on a much deeper level. I think it’s interesting /awesome how most students from Europe that study at Wheaton are trilingual if not quadrilingual. Who knows, maybe they’re taught so many languages growing up because of how many different languages are spoken in Europe. Or maybe they understand that speaking to a person in their own language goes to their heart and not their head. Either way, I think it would be beneficial and humanitarian if we in Americans were pushed more to learn languages other than English.


  2. I think it’s so great that you chose to write about language in this context. I agree wholeheartedly that language is very influential in our society, and that some people don’t make enough effort to incorporate it into their lives. Like you said in your post, the attempt at speaking another language makes the other person more comfortable when in a foreign place, and I’ve experienced that firsthand. I’ve done a lot of traveling in the past couple of years and seen that whenever I make an attempt to speak the native language, the people there are much more open and kind, and willing to help. For example, when you inevitably get lost in a new city, if you ask a person for directions in english, I’ve seen that they’re way less likely to help than if you attempt the question in their language. Not only do they understand you a little bit better but they see that you are trying, and that you want to be immersed in that culture, rather than just being a passive tourist.
    I think that this combined with the fact that learning more languages increases brain mass should encourage more people to learn languages for fun rather than see them as a requirement to fill.


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