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August 07, 2012

Does This Language make Me Look Fat?

As much as I love language, I am always mystified by its reach into our lives. Language is far more than the 'tags' we put on things. Perhaps our language defines - or at least impacts - us in ways we never would...

have imagined.

But could our language - especially our grammar - affect how we look at time? Especially our sense of the future?

M. Keith Chen, an associate professor of economics at Yale University, thinks so. Chen claims that languages whose grammar contains no explicit future tense are spoken by people who, statistically, are healthier and wealthier.

It makes sense to me. If language frames and specifies what we do and 'name' things, it seems reasonable that our language helps us define ourselves and how we respond to the responsibilities and opportunities of life.

Take a look at the full article here and let me know what you think - http://www.rferl.org/content/language_affecting_economics_and_personal_well_being/24527629.html.

Chen's premise, very simply, is that our language, our shared frame of reference, dictates how we think about food, money and personal health and fitness.

I've noticed that the more I think about what to write or say, the more I also consider the longer term aspects of other behaviors - and their impact on those around me.

It's an interesting concept. I like the idea of language framing and defining who we are, but I also hold tightly to the belief that each one of us defines ourselves.

And you thought vocabulary and grammar was confusing!

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


Also, Morf just might be available to visit your school or agency this coming September. You can contact him at mmorf@mail.com. He's always interested in talking about words, films, music and American culture in general.

Posted by mmorf at August 7, 2012 12:03 PM


I thought language without a future belonged to hopeless people who lived in chaos. Hmmm.

Posted by: Andrea at August 23, 2012 10:28 AM

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