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Different Languages, Different Personalities

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Re: Different Languages, Different Personalities

Postby Albannach » 25 May 2012, 16:53

My experience suggests that we do adopt different behavioural patterns when we're acting within a different culture - and for most of us, that change is brought about by using a different language. At any rate, my wife describes me as becoming a different person when I speak German. The great character actor Alex Guinness said that the first step in learning to play a character was to learn the walk, and I suspect that using a language effectively involves adopting a different persona, including changing one's posture. Maybe "acting" is the quintessential skill in language learning.
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Re: Different Languages, Different Personalities

Postby rice_t » 25 May 2012, 18:29

I think it is obvious that the value system (etc.) of a given population finds its expression in the language(s) used. The use of language reinforces (but also sometimes challenges) the value system.

I wonder whether this is where the limitations of translation software lie. I am thinking about situations where e.g. a 'no problem' in one culture does not necessarily mean 'no problem' in another culture.
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Re: Different Languages, Different Personalities

Postby Petrichor » 28 May 2012, 05:58

Thanks for all replies. I've been moving house and have only just had time to check back on this thread. It's been really interesting reading how people feel their personality is slightly different according to the language they're speaking at the time. I hope I can become fluent enough one day to experience it.

The book I referred to earlier stated it was possible to infer that different language speakers actually perceived the world differently too. The evidence from experiments seemed to show that the participants saw colours differently according to their languages' ways of naming them.

I know it's a stretch but would anyone say they sometimes see things differently when speaking another language? So, have you ever thought if we'd been speaking xxxxx I wouldn't have been upset at that conversation, or something like that?
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Re: Different Languages, Different Personalities

Postby housecat » 28 May 2012, 06:28

The only kind of example I can think of right off is this: Europeans (in GENERAL--and I'm speaking about Spanish in particular) tend to enjoy a good debate. I've spent countless hours sitting around discussing, or philolophising, with European friends. American friends would likely be affronted by anyone suggesting anything different than the majority opinion, but the Europeans love it, and are willing to talk it though, or even concede a point. Most, but not all, of my American friends either would not know enough to join the conversation on an intelligent level in the first place, or would rather argue, in a hostile sense of the word, until everyone else got fed up and walked away. Most Taiwanese would end up being silent, or not engaging in the first place, because of a fear of loss of face, either their own or someone else's. Sorry, this is all GROSS generalization.
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Re: Different Languages, Different Personalities

Postby Deuce Dropper » 28 May 2012, 13:01

I'm a bit fruity in Mandarin
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Re: Different Languages, Different Personalities

Postby John Yu » 28 May 2012, 13:23

I feel different speaking Chinese. In the beginning, I didn't, because I was still translating everything I wanted to say in my head from English to Chinese (and thus my Chinese sounded more awkward), but as the years went by and my Chinese got better, I started developing a slightly different personality in Chinese. It's still me, just a little bit different.
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