MAY 23, 2017 10:22 AM PDT

Can the Languages You Speak Influence Your Perception of Time?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard


Bilingual people can speak multiple languages fluently, and according to some experts, they may visualize time differently as well.

Certain languages perceive time in measures of distance, while others perceive time in measures of volume. For example, in English, one might say "I need to go on a short break," while in Spanish one might say: "I need to go on a small break."

Whether or not one way of saying things is more correct than another, different languages seem to use different units of measure to perceive time, and scientists wanted to figure out which perception was better at keeping track of time.

Testing showed that when participants were shown visual prompts relating to distance and volume, and were then shown words of their bilingual languages, they perceived time based on the word prompts they were shown, which suggests that the language we speak has an impact on how we visualize time in our brains.

Language may actually impact several other things, including our understanding of social behavior and emotions.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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