November272012
Imagine a language where relative directions such as ‘left, right, front, back’ do not exist. How will the speakers of that language orient themselves or give directions? Whether we realize it or not, the language that we speak shapes the way we think.
In Guugu Yimithirr, an aboriginal Australian tongue, cardinal directions (compass directions) are used instead of relative directions. When asking someone to move over to make room, Guugu Yimithirr might say “scoot over to the east”. This shapes their way of thinking in that, to speak this language, you need to have a compass in your brain at all times. If not, you would have immense trouble understanding those around you.
Language not only shapes how we think about directions but also how we think about time and space and view objects. Check out this video and article for more on the topic.

Imagine a language where relative directions such as ‘left, right, front, back’ do not exist. How will the speakers of that language orient themselves or give directions? Whether we realize it or not, the language that we speak shapes the way we think.

In Guugu Yimithirr, an aboriginal Australian tongue, cardinal directions (compass directions) are used instead of relative directions. When asking someone to move over to make room, Guugu Yimithirr might say “scoot over to the east”. This shapes their way of thinking in that, to speak this language, you need to have a compass in your brain at all times. If not, you would have immense trouble understanding those around you.

Language not only shapes how we think about directions but also how we think about time and space and view objects. Check out this video and article for more on the topic.

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