Do bilinguals have a different vision of the world?
Everyone says that speaking two languages opens horizons; it may even change the way you think.
New research from Newcastle University (UK) suggests that speaking more than one language literally changes the way people see the world.
The phenomenon is not limited to true bilinguals. According to Newcastle researcher Panos Athanasopoulos, you don't need to speak a language fluently to feel the effects on your way of thinking.
"It is language use, not proficiency, which makes the difference," explains a university press release.
The study focused on color perception, and demonstrated that knowing specific words for colors actually increases perception of color difference.
For example, in Japanese there is a one-word term for light blue, and another one-word term for dark blue. Speakers of Japanese are thus more likely to make a clear distinction in their minds between the two hues.
English-speakers who use Japanese frequently also start to see the two blues as separate colors, rather than shades of the same color.
Dr Athanasopoulos emphasizes that learning a language truly opens one's mind.
Criticizing Europe's "English as the lingua franca" mentality, he concludes that knowledge of foreign languages could give businesses a better insight into their international trading partners.