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語言的秘密:你所使用的語言,直接塑造了你看待世界的方式

線上學習時事英文-語言的秘密 | 葉安娜線上學習成人美語一對一家教 Ana Yeh English

時事1

你會說幾種語言呢?在使用不同的語言時,會覺得自己像是另一個人嗎?
蘭卡斯特大學語言學暨英語學系教授 Panos Athana­sopou­los撰文表示:這種「切換人格」的感覺並非錯覺,而是語言本身就會直接影響到世界觀!

雙語人士在生活中總是吃香。他們有較好的工作機會、認知能力更加提升,甚至較不容易得老人痴呆症。現在一份新的研究顯示,雙語人士在某些情境中使用不同的語言時,會對這個世界產生截然不同的觀點。

過去 15 年來,學術界已針對雙語人士的思考方式做過相當多的研究,其中大部分都有證據顯示,若是通曉不只一種語言,是確有好處的。在不同的語言間來回切換使用,可以視為一種腦力訓練,讓你的頭腦變得更有彈性。

如同規律運動能夠讓身體就生物層面上受益,就心智層面而言,通曉兩種以上語言能夠讓你的大腦提升認知能力。這類心智層面的彈性,在晚年時能夠獲得更多的回饋:人到了晚年時通常會出現的認知老化跡象,在雙語人士身上會延緩出現時間 – 像是阿茲海默症 (老人痴呆症) 等跟年齡有關的衰退失調症,在雙語人士身上出現的時間會往後延遲最多五年之久。

德國人知道目的地在於何處

在我們最近發佈在《心理科學》(Psychological Sci­ence) 期刊上的一份研究中,我們研究了通曉德語和英語的雙語人士及單語人士,以便瞭解不同的語言模式對於他們在實驗中的反應,會造成什麼樣的影響。

我們對德語-英語雙語人士播放幾段內含某個動作的影片,像是一位女士走向車子,或者一位男士騎單車前往超市等,然後要求他們描述這些情境。

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當你對德語單語人士展示這樣的情境時,他們會傾向於描述動作,而且也會描述動作進行的目標。因此他們會說「一位女士走向她的車子」或者是「一位男士騎單車前往超市」,而英語人士只會將這些情境像這樣簡單地描述為,「一位女士正在走路」或者「一位男士正在騎單車」,而未提及動作的目標。

德語人士的世界觀,具有較為全面的假設 – 他們傾向於將事件視為一個整體 – 而英語人士會將目光拉近,而僅聚焦於動作。

這類傾向深藏著語言學基礎,是由於不同的文法系統對於如何處理動作的時態有不同做法所導致。在處理持續進行的事件時,英文的文法會強制要求發言者加上「正在」「-ing」語素:「我正在彈鋼琴,沒辦法講電話 (I am play­ing the piano and I can­not come to the phone)」或是「電話響的時候我正在彈鋼琴 (I was play­ing the piano when the phone rang)」。德文並不具這樣的特性。

針對第二語言使用者進行的研究顯示,對這類文法結構的熟練程度,以及發言者提及事件目標的頻率之間,確有關聯存在。

我們在研究中也發現,這些跨語言的差異不只是存在於使用語言本身而已,甚至會影響非語言的事件分類。我們要求英語和德語的單語使用者觀賞一系列的短片,其中顯示某人走路、騎單車、跑步或者開車的畫面。在每三段一組的影片中,我們要求受試者描述,動作的目標模稜兩可的情境 (女人沿著馬路走向停在路邊的車) 會跟哪一種情境較為接近:是較接近於動作目標明確的情境 (女人走進建築物中),還是較接近動作沒有目標的情境 (女人沿著鄉間小路漫步)。

相較於英語單語人士,德語單語人士更傾向於將模稜兩可的情境與目標明確的情境互相配對。這樣的差異,反映了在語言的使用中所發現的現象:德語使用者較傾向於關注人們的動作所可能產生的結果,但英語使用者會更加注意動作本身。

轉換語言,轉變觀點

至於雙語使用者,他們似乎會根據進行某項任務時所使用的語言脈絡,在不同的觀點間轉換。我們發現,英語流利的德國人在母國以德語進行測驗時,會跟其他所有的母語使用者同樣地關注於目標。但在英國以英語進行測驗時,雖然性質同樣都是通曉德語-英語的雙語人士,但他們跟英語的母語使用者同樣地關注於動作。

在另外一組德語-英語雙語人士的組別中,我們在進行影片配對任務時,讓他們的思緒維持在使用其中一種語言的狀態,方法是以英語或德語重覆大聲念出一串數字。將思緒導向使用某種語言,似乎會自動讓該種語言的影響力提升。

當我們「阻擋」英語的思緒時,雙語人士的行為就跟典型的德國人一樣,傾向於將模稜兩可的影片視為目標導向。而當阻擋德語的思緒時,雙語受試者的行為會類似於英語使用者,並傾向於將模稜兩可的情境與開放的情境互相配對。當我們在實驗進行到一半時,若是用念數字的方式讓受試者從正在使用的語言中分心,受試者對於目標或流程的關注焦點會立即轉換。

這些發現跟其它研究的結果一致,顯示在任務中所使用的語言若有不同,雙語人士的行為會跟著明顯改變。例如,相較於猶太人,會說希伯來語的阿拉伯人在使用阿拉伯語的情境中,會較傾向於將 Ahmed 與 Samir 等阿拉伯名字連結至較為正面的字眼。

人們通常會根據自身經驗表示,在使用不同的語言時,會覺得自己像是另一個人,並且會根據使用的語言不同,在表達特定的情緒時勾起不同的情感共鳴。

在評估風險時,雙語人士也會傾向於使用第二語言來做出更理性的經濟決策。相較於母語,在使用第二語言的思考流程中,較不會有根深蒂固的情感偏誤,而這類情感偏誤會對感受到的風險與好處造成負面影響。因此你所使用的語言,真的會影響你的思考方式。

 

中文全文引用自一元快報

英文原文在此

How The Language You Speak Changes Your View Of The World

March 26, 2016 | by Panos Athanasopoulos

Bilin­guals get all the perks. Bet­ter job prospects, a cog­ni­tive boost and even pro­tec­tion against demen­tia. Now new research shows that they can also view the world in dif­fer­ent ways depend­ing on the spe­cif­ic lan­guage they are oper­at­ing in.

The past 15 years have wit­nessed an over­whelm­ing amount of research on the bilin­gual mind, with the major­i­ty of the evi­dence point­ing to the tan­gi­ble advan­tages of using more than one lan­guage. Going back and forth between lan­guages appears to be a kind of brain train­ing, push­ing your brain to be flexible.

Just as reg­u­lar exer­cise gives your body some bio­log­i­cal ben­e­fits, men­tal­ly con­trol­ling two or more lan­guages gives your brain cog­ni­tive ben­e­fits. This men­tal flex­i­bil­i­ty pays big div­i­dends espe­cial­ly lat­er in life: the typ­i­cal signs of cog­ni­tive age­ing occur lat­er in bilin­guals– and the onset of age-relat­ed degen­er­a­tive dis­or­ders such as demen­tia or Alzheimer’s are delayed in bilin­guals by up to five years.

Ger­mans know where they’re going

In research we recent­ly pub­lished in Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence, we stud­ied Ger­man-Eng­lish bilin­guals and mono­lin­guals to find out how dif­fer­ent lan­guage pat­terns affect­ed how they react­ed in experiments.

We showed Ger­man-Eng­lish bilin­guals video clips of events with a motion in them, such as a woman walk­ing towards a car or a man cycling towards the super­mar­ket and then asked them to describe the scenes.

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Is she walk­ing? Or walk­ing towards the car? Walk­ing via Radu Razvan/www.shutterstock.com

When you give a scene like that to a mono­lin­gual Ger­man speak­er they will tend to describe the action but also the goal of the action. So they would tend to say “A woman walks towards her car” or “a man cycles towards the super­mar­ket”. Eng­lish mono­lin­gual speak­ers would sim­ply describe those scenes as “A woman is walk­ing” or “a man is cycling”, with­out men­tion­ing the goal of the action.

The world­view assumed by Ger­man speak­ers is a holis­tic one – they tend to look at the event as a whole – where­as Eng­lish speak­ers tend to zoom in on the event and focus only on the action.

The lin­guis­tic basis of this ten­den­cy appears to be root­ed in the way dif­fer­ent gram­mat­i­cal tool kits sit­u­at­ed actions in time. Eng­lish requires its speak­ers to gram­mat­i­cal­ly mark events that are ongo­ing, by oblig­a­to­ri­ly apply­ing the –ing mor­pheme: “I am play­ing the piano and I can­not come to the phone” or “I was play­ing the piano when the phone rang”. Ger­man doesn’t have this feature.

Research with sec­ond lan­guage users shows a rela­tion­ship between lin­guis­tic pro­fi­cien­cy in such gram­mat­i­cal con­struc­tions and the fre­quen­cy with which speak­ers men­tion the goals of events.

In our study we also found that these cross-lin­guis­tic dif­fer­ences extend beyond lan­guage usage itself, to non­ver­bal cat­e­gori­sa­tion of events. We asked Eng­lish and Ger­man mono­lin­guals to watch a series of video clips that showed peo­ple walk­ing, bik­ing, run­ning, or dri­ving. In each set of three videos, we asked sub­jects to decide whether a scene with an ambigu­ous goal (a woman walks down a road toward a parked car) was more sim­i­lar to a clear­ly goal-ori­ent­ed scene (a woman walks into a build­ing) or a scene with no goal (a woman walks down a coun­try lane).

Ger­man mono­lin­guals matched ambigu­ous scenes with goal-ori­ent­ed scenes more fre­quent­ly than Eng­lish mono­lin­guals did. This dif­fer­ence mir­rors the one found for lan­guage usage: Ger­man speak­ers are more like­ly to focus on pos­si­ble out­comes of people’s actions, but Eng­lish speak­ers pay more atten­tion to the action itself.

Switch lan­guages, change perspective

When it came to bilin­gual speak­ers, they seemed to switch between these per­spec­tives based on the lan­guage con­text they were giv­en the task in. We found that Ger­mans flu­ent in Eng­lish were just as goal-focused as any oth­er native speak­er when test­ed in Ger­man in their home coun­try. But a sim­i­lar group of Ger­man-Eng­lish bilin­guals test­ed in Eng­lish in the Unit­ed King­dom were just as action-focused as native Eng­lish speakers.

In anoth­er group of Ger­man-Eng­lish bilin­guals, we kept one lan­guage in the fore­front of their minds dur­ing the video-match­ing task by mak­ing par­tic­i­pants repeat strings of num­bers out loud in either Eng­lish or Ger­man. Dis­tract­ing one lan­guage seemed to auto­mat­i­cal­ly bring the influ­ence of the oth­er lan­guage to the fore.

When we “blocked” Eng­lish, the bilin­guals act­ed like typ­i­cal Ger­mans and saw ambigu­ous videos as more goal-ori­ent­ed. With Ger­man blocked, bilin­gual sub­jects act­ed like Eng­lish speak­ers and matched ambigu­ous and open-end­ed scenes. When we sur­prised sub­jects by switch­ing the lan­guage of the dis­tract­ing num­bers halfway through the exper­i­ment, the sub­jects’ focus on goals ver­sus process switched right along with it.

These find­ings are in line with oth­er research show­ing dis­tinct behav­iour in bilin­guals depend­ing on the lan­guage of oper­a­tion. Israeli Arabs are more like­ly to asso­ciate Arab names such as Ahmed and Samir with pos­i­tive words in an Ara­bic lan­guage con­text than in a Hebrew one, for example.

Peo­ple self-report that they feel like a dif­fer­ent per­son when using their dif­fer­ent lan­guages and that express­ing cer­tain emo­tions car­ries dif­fer­ent emo­tion­al res­o­nance depend­ing on the lan­guage they are using.

When judg­ing risk, bilin­guals also tend to make more ratio­nal eco­nom­ic deci­sions in a sec­ond lan­guage. In con­trast to one’s first lan­guage, it tends to lack the deep-seat­ed, mis­lead­ing affec­tive bias­es that undu­ly influ­ence how risks and ben­e­fits are per­ceived. So the lan­guage you speak in real­ly can affect the way you think.

The Conversation

Panos Athana­sopou­los, Pro­fes­sor of Lin­guis­tics and Eng­lish Lan­guage, Lan­cast­er University

This arti­cle was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished on The Con­ver­sa­tion. Read the orig­i­nal arti­cle.

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