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How Language Shapes the Way We Think

Whether or not language shapes the way human thinks, it is an essential concept that facilitates communication. According to Boroditsky, there isn’t just one language in the world, but about 7000 languages spoken globally (2017, 01:12). However, all these languages are different because they have diverse vocabularies, sounds, and structures. Humans have magical abilities to transmit complicated thoughts to one another to ensure effective communication. Boroditsky uses examples from various countries to illustrate different languages to facilitate communication. The beauty of linguistic diversity demonstrates how igneous and flexible the human mind is to understand and comprehend all languages. Therefore, the paper will discuss the various ideas presented in the video and how language shapes the way we think by Lera Boroditsky.

Boroditsky indicates that different languages improve people’s orientation in a community. Lera provides an example from the Aboriginal community in Australia. In this community, people don’t use left and right when giving directions instead, they use the cardinal directions to illustrate directions within the community. It might be absurd to say I have an ant in the southwest of my leg, but this is what takes place in this community. Individuals, including visitors, should be conversant with cardinal directions to have a safe stay in this community. Visitors need to learn fast to fit in this community because, without adequate knowledge of the cardinal direction, one cannot go past saying hello. Therefore, languages improve individuals thinking due to their diversity.

Language provides different understandings about time. However, depending on the community and the language used within the community other illustrations would be given to time. Lera provides a picture of her grandfather to be arranged according to time. Although Hebrew, Arabs, and English speakers may use left and right in the arrangement, the Aboriginals are likely to use South, east, west, and east to indicate their time arrangements. The Aboriginal understanding of time suggests that time is locked on the landscape, dramatical thinking of the time (Boroditsky, 2017, 04:49).

The language we speak impacts the way we think about color. Languages have different words for colors, while others have a couple of words like dark and light (Boroditsky, 2017, 06:35). For example, in English, there is a specific word that illustrates blue and all the colors displayed on the screen, however, in Russian there no single word that describes various colors. In Russia, people have to differentiate between light blue and dark blue; thus Russians have the experience of distinguishing these two colors (Boroditsky, 2017, 06:35). Therefore, if a test is set to various different colors, the Russians are likely to be faster when differentiating light and dark blue. Thus, a proper understanding of language allows individuals to have a better understanding of colors.

In conclusion, the video illustrates that languages improves people’s orientation into a community to ensure that people know the various language structures applied within a given region. Knowing the language used is essential in improving and facilitating effective communication among people of the given community. Moreover, language also provides a different understanding of time as each group of people use various illustration when referring to time. For instance, the Arabs may use left and right while the Aboriginal uses cardinal directions when discussion matters concerning time. Finally, the language we speak impacts the way people see and explain colors. Languages have various words for colors, while others have a couple of words like dark and light. In Russia, people have to differentiate between light blue and dark blue, thus Russian have the experience of distinguishing these two colors.


Boroditsky, L. (2017) How language shapes the way we thinkLera Boroditsky: How language shapes the way we think | TED Talk. Available at: (Accessed: November 5, 2022).


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