It may not be too surprising that your brain works differently if you speak more than one language — but it may surprise you to know that being bilingual can actually change how you view the concept of time.
A video from Seeker breaks down a recent study that found that if you speak multiple languages, you might see time differently than someone who is fluent in only one language.
In essence, the language that you think in can impact how you see time. Every language has certain vocabulary for compartmentalizing the world, but how different languages discuss time is particularly interesting.
For starters, we usually think of time in terms of either distance, as in crossing an area, or volume, as in a space being filled. The English language, for example, uses physical distances as a measure of time — as in a "short break" or a "long wedding," as Seeker says.
But in Greek or Spanish, time is described using terms that refer to volume. In Spanish, you would say a "small break" or a "big wedding."
The study, reported in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, published by the American Psychological Association, also found that bilinguals often rapidly go back and forth between languages, a phenomenon called code-switching. As such, they flexibly use both ways of marking duration, therefore altering how they see time.
The study proves just how much language can be embedded in our every day lives, and alter even our senses and our ways of experiencing the world. It also shows that those who speak more than one language are flexible thinkers who might even gain long term benefits for their abilities to learn and multitask.
Pretty cool, right?
Read these stories next: