Humans communicate with one another using 7,000 or so different languages, and each language differs from the next in innumerable ways. Do people who speak different languages think differently? Do languages merely express thoughts, or do they secretly shape the very thoughts we wish to express? Are some thoughts unthinkable without language? The question of whether the languages we speak shape the ways we think has been at the center of controversy for centuries, and with good reason. At stake are basic questions all of us have about ourselves, human nature, and reality. Why do we think the way we do? Why does the world appear to us the way it does? I will discuss research conducted around the world and focus on how language shapes the foundations of cognition, and how metaphor can shape political opinions.
In the second part of this session, American moderator Tracy Metz (John Adams Institute) will talk with dr. Lera Borodistsky and political journalist Thijs Niemantsverdriet (newspaper NRC) about framing, which can really come in handy in the run-up to the American presidential elections.