10 Unbelievable Ways In Which You Are Tricked By Language

Tell me what you think about this. Tell me NOW what you think about it! Just an addition of a single word and look how the dynamics changed! The way we use language is something which, in my humble opinion is not stressed enough in academic circles- schools and colleges ask you not to use cuss-words and such, but that’s about it. But the thing is, the way you phrase sentences affect your life in ways you would never have even imagined. As a primer, here are some unbelievable ways in which you are tricked by language.

1. The language determines the colours that you see


The human eye works pretty much the same regardless of the culture or place its owner belongs to. However, one peculiar of the eye is that while it will see all the colours there are to see, your brain won’t register it unless there’s a word for that colour in your language. One interesting study compared kids from England with children belonging to the Himba tribe in Namibia. While the former had 11 basic colours, for the latter it was limited to just five. For instance, orange, red and pink all go by the name of “serandu.” So, if you show a Himba kid a pink card and later a red card, s/he would perceive it as the same colour. However, if you teach the kids that the two colours go by different colours, they begin to see the colours differently!

2. The more someone uses the word “I” in a conversation, the more submissive s/he is


Even though it’s sometimes kinda nice to have yourself asserting your identity- ‘I, THOR!’ – research shows that people use the word “I” far more number of times when they’re in a submissive position- like when they’re conversing with their badass boss, or when they are in an argument defending their point of view.
There’s yet no conclusive reasoning for this. The best bet is that we become self-reflective when we are intimidated by someone- so, we use more number of the subjective noun when talking with such a person.

3. The more pronounceable your name is, the more likely you’ll be successful


People with really long and complicated names regularly feature in ancient legends. And some of them are heroes. Maybe they are the exception to the rule. But the thing is, there’s ample scientific evidence that shows that the simpler your name, the more chance you have of becoming successful. It’s observed commonly in the case of companies as well. Firms with the simpler names tend to trade better in the stock market when compared to others. The curious thing is, this holds true sometimes when  the companies with the complex names could give better dividends! Another related fact comes from an experiment done at the University of Melbourne. They asked participants to vote for fictional candidates when virtually all they knew about the latter was their name. 40 percent of the candidates’ likeability was linked to how easy it is to pronounce their names.

4. If s/he copies your speech pattern, s/he wants to have sex with you


One reflexive action of your brain when you are talking with someone you like (whom you just met) is to copy their linguistic manners. This is done in the hope that the other person will see you as a kindred spirit. (aww..) Multiple studies have been done in this regard but one of the most enlightening is the one in which researchers analysed conversations of couples who have been chatting online for ten days. They found that 80 percent of those whose writing styles matched were more likely to be still dating in three months time, notwithstanding differences in personality. One way or another, sex- as they say, always comes out on top.

5. People’s attitude towards you differs with your accent


Whether the study conducted for British citizens is applicable to the whole world is unclear. But, according to a poll conducted in 2013, it was found that the British thought that those with “Received Pronunciation/ Queen’s England/ James Bond Villain” are the most intelligent. And while the accent of Liverpool is considered the least intelligent, 28 percent of Brits felt they were discriminated against solely because of the way they talk.
And another study shows that Middle-Eastern accent is considered the most-attractive in the world.

6. If you speak in English, you’re more likely to blame others


There’s something about the English language and the inclination to blame someone , or so think researchers at the Stanford University who did a related experiment to find out how native users of different languages view negative things. It was found that when something bad happens, English language users were far more prone to find someone to blame- even if the mishap was not caused by any human agent.

7. You can read what’s one someone’s mind from their metaphors


One way in which you can make someone else empathise with you(not that you’d want to manipulate anyone) is by using metaphors to explain your state of mind. Apparently the use of metaphor is so strong a tool that scientists have found the effect as similar to physically touching a texture. In other words, you are actually closer to someone’s mind more than ever when s/he is using metaphors in speech. Of course, the idea can be used for bad ends too. Also, people who are frequently exposed to metaphors- like those who regularly read poetry are more adept in reading others’ emotions.

8. We associate negativity with intelligence, without us knowing it!


The subconscious is a phantom that makes us question the whole idea of wilful decision-making. Lurking behind our conscious seat of intelligence, this phantom is the one actually responsible for many of our actions- and we aren’t even aware of it! A clear case of possession if there ever was! Before I get all paranoid, let me tell you this one thing about the subconscious: we actually believe that the more negative a person is, the smarter s/he is. And the seat of this belief is, of course the subconscious. Some scientists speculate that this is an evolutionary offshoot- the more you focus on possible bad things(like venomous snakes in the jungle rather than the wild rose in bloom) the more are your chances of survival.

9. Language affects the way you view objects


You know that some languages assign a gender to just about everything- Hindi being a case in point. The gender that’s ascribed to something in a language determines to a large extent the way you relate to it. For instance, the word “bridge” in German is feminine whereas the same word is masculine in Spanish. This means that when a German sees a quality-bridge, s/he is more prone to describe it using words such as “elegant” or “graceful” whereas a Spaniard would probably use words such as “sturdy” for the same.

10. Language affects the way you perceive time


English language speakers tend to see time as a chronological progression- a line that proceeds from left to right, much like how we read sentences. However, for a speaker of the Mandarin language, time is a vertical progression as Mandarin is read in a top-to bottom manner. This means that for them, the things that have already happened are “up” and those yet to come are “down”. Scientists at Stanford did an experiment in which those who speak Mandarin were asked to think time in a horizontal manner. Predictably enough, it was extremely tough for the subjects.

The bottom-line is, when they say “watch what you say!” they might have a point, after all.


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