Languages and personalities


When I talked to my sister, who studied linguistics, on the phone last week, I told her that I wanted to write about languages on my blog. I said to her to tell me something interesting that I don’t know about languages. And she did. She said some people who know several languages change their personality depending on what language they are currently speaking.

I became curious about this, so I started doing some research. According to an article I found, people don’t only experience different personalities depending on what language they speak, but also different world views.

In the article, it is reported that people feel different depending on what language they speak, for instance, being more rude in a certain language. When I think about it, I think I’m more polite when I speak English than Swedish. I also think I’m more social and open-minded.

But it might not be the languages themselves that are the cause of changing personalities. One of the reasons the article provides is that people can be bicultural; they feel different depending on what language they are speaking because the languages are associated with different cultures. So the reason why I am more polite and open-minded when I speak English could be that those are the norms in the American culture.

The article also mentions a few advantages of speaking several languages. These are better performance at tasks involving planning and prioritizing, and a better defence against dementia. I have always thought knowing several languages is important, but it turns out it is beneficial in more ways I could imagine.

Being able to change personalities, or adapt to different cultures, is also an advantage to me. It tells me I have the ability to live, and maybe work, in different countries and develop my understanding of the world.


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