Does language shape the way we think?

By Jeremy Blake on October 1, 2018

 This is a cracking Ted Talk from Lera Boroditsky that she gave at Ted Women last year.

How Language Shapes The way We Think


Lera is a cognitive scientist.


Here’s a definition of what that means – with thanks to Paul Thagard, his definition comes from The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.


“Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary, scientific study of the mind and its processes. It examines the nature, the tasks, and the functions of cognition (in a broad sense). Cognitive scientists study intelligence and behaviour, with a focus on how nervous systems represent, process, and transform information.

Mental faculties of concern to cognitive scientists include language, perception, memory, attention, reasoning, and emotion;
to understand these faculties, cognitive scientists borrow from fields such as linguistics, psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience, and anthropology.”


My favourite part is what she shares about a tribe who instead of asking How are you?
They ask Where are you Going? You also end up reconsidering gender use in language.
Can the sex of a noun shape the way you think about it?


We have 7,000 languages and there is an estimate that half of the world’s languages will be gone in the next hundred years.


Make 15 minutes to watch this and become aware that your language is only one of 7,000.

If your workplace, or customer base has some diversity you will become aware of how certain people react and respond differently to you how you speak to them. You should also appreciate why different language speakers talk to you in certain ways.

How Language Shapes The way We Think