How the Languages We Speak Shape Our Realities

Saga Foss

March 3, 2023

How the Languages We Speak Shape Our Realities

There are an enormous number of different languages spoken worldwide. Whether or not they influence how people think has long been debated. Some argued that language couldn’t shape our thoughts, while others believed it was inevitable.

Researchers have found ways to test this age-old question with fascinating results empirically. In this article, we will explore how our languages shape our realities and explain why it’s essential for you to learn as many as possible.


Gender is the social understanding of sexual difference – how men and women are figures in social relationships, beliefs, practices, and institutions. It is a product of human culture, and notions of gender are context/time-specific and changeable.

Languages deal with gender in many ways. Some are natural gender languages, like English; others are grammatically gendered, such as French and Spanish.

In languages with grammatical gender, words often have endings that line up with their respective gender (e.g., “la casa” is feminine, and “el bano” is masculine). These endings are a habit that humans pick up over time.

This linguistically gendered language can directly affect how people understand and interact with one another, including their attitudes toward women. In fact, according to a study by World Bank researchers Pamela Jakiela and Michael Ozier, gendered languages are associated with lower female labor force participation and educational achievement worldwide.


The world is fill with languages, making it a place where people from all over can live and communicate. These languages have different structures, encodings, and ways of thinking about the world and themselves.

One way that language shapes our reality is in the way we perceive time. English speakers typically organize time from left to right, while Arabic and Chinese languages have much more flexibility with counting things.

This makes it easier for us to track when certain events happen and helps us better remember them. A recent study, for example, showed that participants felt shorter intervals when they imagined an event six months in the future versus at present.

Researchers found that these differences in perception also affected how people performed cognitive tasks. For example, Mandarin Chinese participants performed faster when given a series of tests that measured their ability to recognize temporal relationships between months.


For most of human history, it has been believed that space was an infinite void that underlies everything. However, recent developments in science, mathematics, and philosophy challenge our conventional notions of space.

For example, physicists have found that space weighs and pushes like matter – a property traditionally considered a crucial defining characteristic of matter.

The discovery of this weighting effect has caused many physicists to question the basic tenets of Einstein’s relativity theory, which suggests that space is the empty void between objects.

This reinterpretation of space has also led to some fascinating discoveries about how it shapes our reality. One of these is that language can shape our thinking and navigational skills.


Identity is an individual’s sense of self based on physical and behavioral traits. It includes the values people hold and the social roles they identify themselves with.

Often, identities are form in childhood and adolescence through experimentation and social interactions with peers. Those identities then influence how we live our lives, our choices, and our expectations of ourselves.

During identity formation, an individual combines their outer social world’s cognitive, emotional, and social experiences with aspects of their inner world to construct a harmonious whole. These connections involve aspects of psychosocial functioning, including personality traits and anxiety, and how an individual relates to others in their society.