Language Is a Lot More Than Just Communication

October 25th, 2015

Does language affect the way we experience emotions?

Language Is a Lot More Than Just Communication | One Hour Translation

The question we’re asking is: Does language affect the way we experience emotions? Today, researchers are finding that, more than ever, language not only determines the way we communicate - it also affects the way we think, and now research is showing that language affects the way we experience emotions.

People who have grown up in bilingual households or who are bilingual themselves will not be at all surprised by this information. You may have seen in television shows or movies that bilingual speakers will sometimes switch between languages when feeling or expressing their changing emotions. A good example of this is Penelope Cruz in the movie Vanilla Sky.

Code-Switching

Quite recently, two United States psychology scientists by the names of Qing Zhou and Stephen Chen published an article in the journal ‘Perspectives on Psychological Science’ on the emotional aspect of ‘code-switching’: this is the linguistic term for when people use multiple languages during conversation.

These researchers have shown that the language used by parents to express and discuss different emotions can affect the way their children experience emotions. An example of this occurs in Finland: it’s not common to express emotions in Finnish, so a parent who speaks both Finnish and English will most likely use English to express feelings of love and emotion with their children. This means that, in turn, these children would realize that when their parents speak in English it’s highly probable that they are expressing emotions.

The Research is Ongoing

The research on this topic is still ongoing, but it is true that, when speaking with bilingual people, some people do tend to switch languages when the emotional tone of the discussion changes. This might be due to cultural context, comfort levels, or the fact that different languages are more accurately able to express certain emotions. Either way, it seems there is still much work for the researchers to do.

Further Evidence of the Importance of Using Professional Translators

This research is quite interesting for translators because it has significant implications for language and linguistics. Specifically, it provides further evidence of the many differences in the languages of the world and how important it is to use language experts for any translation project.

At One Hour Translation all our translators are highly-experienced professional language experts. For any translation project, no matter how large or small, please don’t hesitate to contact us for an obligation free quotation.

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