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Speaking English makes you poor, fat and die younger


Schomberg

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Well maybe not die younger, but according to a Yale Professor of behavioural economism speaking English means we save less for the future, smoke more and get less exercise.

Prof Chen divides the world's languages into two groups, depending on how they treat the concept of time.
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If your language separates the future and the present in its grammar, that seems to lead you to slightly disassociate the future from the present”

Keith Chen Yale University

Strong future-time reference languages (strong FTR) require their speakers to use a different tense when speaking of the future. Weak future-time reference (weak FTR) languages do not.

"If I wanted to explain to an English-speaking colleague why I can't attend a meeting later today, I could not say 'I go to a seminar', English grammar would oblige me to say 'I will go, am going, or have to go to a seminar'.

"If, on the other hand, I were speaking Mandarin, it would be quite natural for me to omit any marker of future time and say 'I go listen seminar' since the context leaves little room for misunderstanding," says Prof Chen.

Even within European languages there are clear grammatical differences in the way they treat future events, he says.

"In English you have to say 'it will rain tomorrow' while in German you can say 'morgen regnet es' - it rains tomorrow."

Seems BS to me. What does everyone else think?
 
B

birthday

Well maybe not die younger, but according to a Yale Professor of behavioural economism speaking English means we save less for the future, smoke more and get less exercise.




Seems BS to me. What does everyone else think?

You fix your avatar tomorrow

You will fix your avatar tomorrow
 

Schomberg

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sic transit

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Well maybe not die younger, but according to a Yale Professor of behavioural economism speaking English means we save less for the future, smoke more and get less exercise.




Seems BS to me. What does everyone else think?
Most of the English speaking cultures are relatively affluent anyway and that brings with it its own laziness. They have already been through that transformational step of becoming mature economies. I have met oversized people of many nationalities and life expectancy is generally acknowledged to be lifestyle driven.
 

petaljam

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I read this earlier today. It all seems quite daft.
What about "we're leaving at 10 tomorrow"? That's a present tense used for future events. And actually linguistically English is considered as not having an actual future tense, because "will" is a modal auxiliary, not a tense. From that PoV, English has only two tenses, simple present and simple past, all the others are formed by using "aspects", not tenses.

Irish, Latin, French etc all have genuine tenses, where the verb itself changes. Not sure whether the basic premise of the tense thing is valid or not, but there is a good argument to make that English is actually one of the languages that doesn't separate times in the way some others do.
 

sic transit

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What about "we're leaving at 10 tomorrow"? That's a present tense used for future events. And actually linguistically English is considered as not having an actual future tense, because "will" is a modal auxiliary, not a tense. From that PoV, English has only two tenses, simple present and simple past, all the others are formed by using "aspects", not tenses.

Irish, Latin, French etc all have genuine tenses, where the verb itself changes. Not sure whether the basic premise of the tense thing is valid or not, but there is a good argument to make that English is actually one of the languages that doesn't separate times in the way some others do.
He also seems to ignore differences that can often exist between written and spoken text. His German example about the rain would most likely be a future form if written.

English doesn't have the centralised institutions or academies that other languages have , which lay down how grammar rules must be used. We talk about usage rather than rules.
 

Ulster-Lad

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sic transit

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Someone should tell that to the German President, Joachim Gauck. He states English should be 'lingua franca' of the EU in what appears to be a carrot approach to the UK to stay in the EU.

English should be the language of Europe, claims Germany's president as he begs Britain not to leave the European Union | Mail Online
More likely to acknowledge pretty much every country in Europe and most worldwide which teach English as a primary foreign language and recognise its status as a lingua franca. While it may be a hard language to master because of its sheer volume, it is a relatively easy language to learn.
 

seabhcan

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I do think language has an impact on how you think. I learned Russian as an adult and I've always been struck by how the language has no direct way of saying you own something. If you own a car, you say, literally, "the car is near me" (even if it isn't physically near you at that moment).

I've often wondered if that way of thinking made the population more accepting of communist principles of common ownership...

Or, perhaps the long feudal history of Russia (abandoned only 50 year before communism took hold) crafted the language like that.

But of course, Russians today are quite keen on owning stuff - and the language hasn't changed.

There are interesting hints in the structure of language but there is little definitive.
 

Riadach

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I think certain languages help you associate two concepts more closely together by the way they use their vocbulary. In that respect, I think they can have some impact on how you think, or which ideas come more readily to you. I believe it is this associative aspect that makes bilingual speakers more creative.
 

seabhcan

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I think certain languages help you associate two concepts more closely together by the way they use their vocbulary. In that respect, I think they can have some impact on how you think, or which ideas come more readily to you. I believe it is this associative aspect that makes bilingual speakers more creative.
Certainly the vocabulary you know will tend you towards certain ideas, even within a single language. Know and understand more words and you will have more ideas.
 

Riadach

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Certainly the vocabulary you know will tend you towards certain ideas, even within a single language. Know and understand more words and you will have more ideas.

It's not just about ideas, it's about connections which can be quite inventine. For example, in English we associate knowledge of a person with knowledge of an idea, indeed, in some instances the language causes the association between two ideas that the speaker won't automatically know they are separate.
 

McTell

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No
Don't you love it when the profs lump hundreds of millions of people in one box?

Indian English speakers - many I've met are underweight.

Canadians - save plenty, and no bank problems there.
 

greenwithirony

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Don't you love it when the profs lump hundreds of millions of people in one box?

Indian English speakers - many I've met are underweight.

Canadians - save plenty, and no bank problems there.
Indeed!

I believe obesity is a huge problem & growing (sorry!) in both Brazil & Mexico, & smoking is AFAIK a far more popular activity in both China & France than any English-speaking country.

That said, I once had a very intoxicated man-in-the-pub idea (while living in the Netherlands) that one of the reasons the Germans & Dutch seem to produce so many good practical/engineering types is the forethought required in sentence construction (i.e. verb & correct tense at the end of the sentence etc), any thoughts?
 

McTell

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If you want to make it in both countries, and start saving, you must speak English.

Hindi as heard in Bollywood is a wonderful new expression of Indian culture. Don't know if the Canuck "voyageurs" ever saved much. Honorable exceptions no doubt.
 
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