Does your personality change when switching languages?

Hey guys! I’ve been thinking a lot recently about somethign and I would really appreciate if you could help me with it! So I am bilingual and I was thinking about how or whether my personality changes when switching languages.

For example, some friends have mentioned they are more patient in one language than the other. Another individual who spoke many european languages had very distinct divides (not so much a personality change):
english is best for science
spanish is best for comedy
french is best for poetry
and he really wished he could just mush them all together and so be able to express himself in the best way at all times instead of just the best in *one* aspect, but he had to choose.

Anyway, can you please tell me whether your personality changes when switching languages and in what ways? (And also of course the languages in which this happens).

Prelinguistic Infants Can Categorize Colors

A joint group of researchers from Chuo University, Japan Women’s University and Tohoku University has revealed that infants aged between 5 and 7 months hold the representation of color categories in their brain, even before the acquisition of language.

The research is in PNAS. (full access paywall)

There are faster languages than others. According to these article :,8599,2091477,00.html

“Recently, linguist François Pel­legrino along with his team at the Univer­sity of Lyon in France tried to break down the rate differences between seven languages: British English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish. They compared two different components of language: speech speed and density of information. Speech speed is measured by syllables per second, and density of information is measured by how much information is encoded per syllable. What does that mean? Let’s take an example from English. The one-syllable word “calm” is information dense because it expresses a complex state with only one-syllable. However, “easy-going” uses four syllables to express an idea easily conveyed with fewer syllables. By averaging the information density across a language, the linguists determined the density of information per language.”

How did the linguists conduct their experiment? First, they looked at how many syllables per second speakers articulated when reading 20 sample texts. They had 60 native speakers of the languages each read the 20 texts in order to gather an accurate average speed for the language overall. Out of the seven languages, Spanish and Japanese turned out to be the fastest, Mandarin the slowest. However, the second variable – density of information – complicated their results. The languages that were spoken more quickly were less dense with information, and the languages that were spoken slowly were correspondingly denser. So, the information rate for all the languages turned out to be relatively similar across the seven languages.

Linguists have speculated that this average information rate correlates to an innate speed at which the human brain comprehends the world. That, of course, is only speculation. There is no concrete evidence to support that yet.

Do you tend to talk quickly or slowly? Do you wish the language you speak would slow down or hurry up?

But how could that be? The dialogue in movies translated from English to Spanish doesn’t whiz by in half the original time after all, which is what it should if the same lines were being spoken at double time. Similarly, Spanish films don’t take four hours to unspool when they’re translated into French. Somewhere among all the languages must be a great equalizer that keeps us conveying information at the same rate even if the speed limits vary from tongue to tongue.

With this raw data in hand, the investigators crunched the numbers together to arrive at two critical values for each language: the average information density for each of its syllables and the average number of syllables spoken per second in ordinary speech. Vietnamese was used as a reference language for the other seven, with its syllables (which are considered by linguists to be very information-dense) given an arbitrary value of 1.

For all of the other languages, the researchers discovered, the more data-dense the average syllable was, the fewer of those syllables had to be spoken per second — and thus the slower the speech. English, with a high information density of .91, was spoken at an average rate of 6.19 syllables per second. Mandarin, which topped the density list at .94, was the spoken slowpoke at 5.18 syllables per second. Spanish, with a low-density .63, ripped along at a syllable-per-second velocity of 7.82. The true speed demon of the group, however, was Japanese, which edged past Spanish at 7.84, thanks to its low density of .49. Despite those differences, at the end of, say, a minute of speech, all of the languages would have conveyed more or less identical amounts of information.

“A tradeoff is operating between a syllable-based average information density and the rate of transmission of syllables,” the researchers wrote. “A dense language will make use of fewer speech chunks than a sparser language for a given amount of semantic information.” In other words, your ears aren’t deceiving you: Spaniards really do sprint and Chinese really do stroll, but they will tell you the same story in the same span of time.

In conclussion:  if your language has low information density, the words will be “long” and viceversa.
Linguistic purists take to Twitter over the circumflex » MobyLives
Two decades after the Académie Française released new guidelines on the use of one of the quirkier diacritical marks in the French language---the circumflex---public outrage has erupted. The Guardian’s Kim Willsher reports that various changes to around 2,400 French words…
Autor: Kait Howard

Is the French government “dumbing down the language”?

My first Somali poem

Somali poetry is difficult because it uses alliteration and meter, so you have to not only have an advanced vocabulary but also be familiar with poems of old. Below is one I wrote a month ago and was edited by my friend Idiris Cali whom I call the Somali Noam Chomsky because he’s an absolute Somali linguistics wiz. 

Caashaqa la sheegaa Indho ciin la mariyiyo
Ma ceeryaan sideedaa?
 Ma cishooyin taxanoo
 Ciyaar lagu dhammaystaa?
 Ciil laabta guba iyo
Ma calaacal dumar baa?
Cudur laga biskoodiyo
 Ma tuf caafimaad baa?
Ma wadaanle ceeliyo
Cirka roob ka yimid baa?
 Ciiddoo naq koray baa?
 Ma cawaandi eriyiyo
Hubka cagajuglayntaa?
Cajal waa’ horeetiyo
 Carro laga carraabaa?
Casarleged udgoonoo Ka carfaaya shishadaa?
Cashar loox ku yaalloo Un cawaanku garan baa?
Caashaqu muxuu yahay?

Approximate translation:

Is the love that people speak about a fog that veils the eyes-
 is it days lived out in play?
 is it rage that scorches the chest
 or the nagging of women?
 Is it an illness one heals from?
 Is it a well run dry
Or a sky awaited for rain?
  Is it plants sprung from sand dunes?
 is it to boldly stand up to one who does you wrong?
 is it century-old recording ?
is it erosion that expels the nomads?
 is it oodh whose scent travels far?
 is it Qur'aan passages scribbled on wooden planks that the idiotic savage fails to understand?
  I wonder what kind it is, pray tell?

Alternative negation structures

I am reading a grammar of the Khoisan language N|uu (N|uuki) right now and there’s an interesting alternative negation strategy.

It is possible to negate with a particle.

Gloss: 3SG NEG eat meat
Trans: S/he did not eat meat.

There’s a parallel strategy which also means the same thing:
Gloss: 3SG NEG say 3SG eat meat.
Trans: (literal) He did not say he ate meat. (actual) He did not eat meat.

Modals also scope above the embedded clause:

Gloss: 3SG NEG IRR say 3SG eat meat.
Trans: (literal) He should not say he ate meat. (actual) He shouldn’t eat meat.

Kind of interesting, no? Does anyone else’s conlang do this?
Why ‘Tis is better than It’s

1) “It’s” has an annoying little space between the /t/ and /s/ when pronounced

2) No more confusing “Its” and “It’s”

3) Easily forms all three tenses (’Twas, ‘Tis, ‘Twill, vs It Was, It’s, It’ll) 

4) Easily forms negatives (’Twasn’t, ‘Tisn’t, ‘Twill Not, vs It Wasn’t, Isn’t, It Won’t)

5) Elides the first sound in the contraction instead of the third

First step taken in my language creation! I’ve decided to name my language Choti. Feel free to join me on this expedition, I’m always open to input and suggestion, and I always appreciate feedback with language related things.

Alright, so my very own Chotian Alphabet. I know the roman alphabet equivalent to every one of these symbols, but I’m trying to find out how phonetically similar I actually want to keep this and English. My next post will likely be the start of the phonology of the language, but I’m going to try to keep these posts organized, so I’ll try and have an entire phonology based post up within the next two weeks. Really, I’m stuck between playing around with new sounds and just basing the sounds off of the ones I use in English (but where’s the fun in that, honestly). What do you guys think?

Today I learned that weird-ass English spelling can be traced back to the Norman conquest of Saxon England in 1066. Basically, when the Normans showed up, they spoke French. So their scribes, who were at the time the only people who could read or write in England, also spoke French. Their written language was sort of a Latin. So, when they wrote down what was being spoken or heard, they were French people transcribing a Germanic language into Latin. This led to a lot of “idk just do this this looks right,” which is why we have huge groups of words that aren’t spelled like they sound.

The claim that ‘just’ ‘shrinks your power’ was popularized earlier this year by former Google executive Ellen Petry Leanse. As I pointed out then, what it overlooks is the fact that words like ‘just’ have a range of functions: you can’t just [sic] assert that they are ‘demeaning’ in every context. (As I also pointed out, Nike didn’t choose ‘Just Do It’ as a slogan because they thought it sounded pleasingly weak and powerless.) Even when ‘just’ is being used as a hedge (i.e., to make a point less forceful or more tentative), the commonest reason for that is simply to be polite; and politeness is more strategic than demeaning.

Only the other day, I got an email that read:

“Sorry to disturb you over the holiday period, but I’m just trying to firm up the schedule, and I wondered if you’d had time to check your diary yet. Have a great new year and get back to me when you have a chance.”

I didn’t think, ‘oh, this guy is really shrinking his power’ (yes, I did say ‘guy’: writing ‘sorry’ and ‘just’ in emails is not an exclusively female habit). I thought, ‘well, that’s considerate, making clear he knows it’s Christmas and I might have better things to do than help him with his schedule’. And since he had been considerate, I figured I’d return the favour: I replied the same day.

If he’d left out all the ‘self-undermining’ politeness features, the email would have looked more like this:

“I’m trying to firm up the schedule, so please check your diary and get back to me as soon as possible.”

The style may be more businesslike, but I’d have read this version as accusatory and borderline hostile (‘hey, I’ve got a schedule to make, why haven’t you given me the information I need?’). And I’d have registered my displeasure by putting it in the pending file until we were both officially back at work. So, politeness can pay dividends: ‘sorry’ and ‘just’ FTW.

Apart from being based on naïve and simplistic ideas about how language works, the other big problem with the ‘women, stop undermining yourselves’ approach is that it presupposes a deficit model of women’s language-use. If women use the word ‘sorry’ more than men (and by the way, that’s a genuine ‘if’: I’m not aware of any compelling evidence they do), that can only mean that women are over-using ‘sorry’, apologizing when it isn’t necessary or appropriate. The alternative interpretation—that men are under-using ‘sorry’ because they don’t always apologise when the circumstances demand it —is surely no less logical or plausible, but somehow it never comes up. As I said back in the summer, the assumption is always that ‘a woman’s place is in the wrong’.

The reason for this is simple. If your business is peddling advice to women, you have to begin by persuading women they’ve got a problem, and that the cause of the problem is their own behaviour. If that’s not the case—if, for instance, the problem has more to do with other people’s attitudes or with structural inequality—then telling women to behave differently is not going to fix very much.

—  Debbie Cameron, Crap Apps and Female Email 
The same doesn’t mean the same: “das gleiche” vs. “dasselbe”

In German, there are two translations for ‘the same’: der/die/das gleiche and der/die/dasselbe.

They don’t describe the same concept of same-ness (Is that even a word? Well now it is). Dasselbe means ‘that exact same thing’ while das gleiche means something like ‘an exact copy of that thing’.

Look at my amazing editing skills these graphics to illustrate the difference: