This YouTube video from Lauren Collins for PBS was incredibly interesting. While not long or overly detailed or scientific, it’s a window into how learning a new language can shift your perspective on the world. In her words, you are suddenly opened up to a parallel universe that she never before knew existed.
Driven to learn French by marrying a Francophone, Lauren was surprised to find that when her mind opened up to fluency she suddenly started to experience her world through the new lens that French gave her. For example, deciding to choose between <em>vous </em> and <i>tu</i> suddenly forced her to have to categorize all of her relationships into public and private, familiar and unfamiliar. There was also a specific word for a person who got cold too easily, causing a shift in perspective of both those people and how those people are viewed by society.
Learning a new language can be a huge commitment, but the rewards are equally as big.
The fact that language can change your perspective is one of the most interesting things, and one of the reasons that linguistic anthropology is so interesting to me.