May 15, 2015

Do Bilinguals Have Two Minds?

I’ve often felt that I act, think and even feel differently depending on the language I speak.  I’ve often heard from other bilinguals that they feel this way.  Recent research, published in the March edition of Psychological Science, suggests that there really is something to it.

British, German and Swedish researchers – linguists and psychologists – immersed themselves on the question of how language influences the brain.  Does a German speaking person have a different take on reality than an English speaking person?  And does that world change when switching from German to English?  The researchers found that, yes, language does determine how you see and interpret events.

An example of this is given on the website – The Conversation:

“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.

“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.  (…) When it came to bilingual speakers, they seemed to switch between these perspectives based on the language context they were given the task in.”

You can read the entire article on: How the language you speak changes your view of the world.

As a writer, my next question is:  If a bilingual writer has a story idea, would the story end up completely different in plot, characters and all that, depending on the language they decide to write it in?

Vanessa

May 8, 2015

Crazy Language

This made me smile. Hope you’ll enjoy it too.

 

~Cecile

April 27, 2015

Holiday Dilemma

My faithful tentEach year, I face the challenge of packing the little red Toyota with the bare necessities and the other, apparently useful, objects for camping: sleeping bags, kitchen utilities, a tent, folding chairs and a change of clothes.

This year, however, the plans are slightly different.  The trip to Ireland involves an airplane and that causes some restrictions in my preparations.  The plan is to go to Ireland, rent a small camper van and travel around for a week or two.

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April 1, 2015

The Shadow of a Story

cponte_brick_wellI was looking through my folder of stories for the one I had started this week and I came across a document name that was unfamiliar to me: The Well. It was last modified in February 2012. I opened it to find one short paragraph:

She pulled the vines away. With her fingers she traced the lines etched into the bark. It was a complex pattern but one line was a semi-circle starting and ending at the floor. She took a few steps back for a better view. Yes, she was sure. It was a door.

All of sudden, I vaguely remember writing this. But where was I going with this story? What did I want to say? It feels like just waking up from a dream. You remember that you had a great adventure but all that remain is a vague feeling, all details gone.

What a loss!

Anyone else ever experience this?

Vanessa

March 13, 2015

Friday the 13th

©Bonnybxx @ pixabay.comThis year there are three Friday the 13ths.  The first one was in February, the second is today and the third will be in November.  Three Fridays to avoid ladders, black cats, breaking mirrors (that’s generally a good idea), and opening umbrellas while being indoors.  The list of things that are best to be postponed is long, depending on how serious you take it.

Jeopardizing the Future

The superstition about umbrellas is one I enjoy in particular.  They’re handy objects on rainy days, but they can bring some bad luck, too, by opening them indoors, or picking them up after dropping them.  And apparently, umbrellas aren’t gift material either.  (I wonder if I should be worried. I ended up with one at my wedding.  Although I’m not sure it was actually a gift; it was in a plastic wrapper, but not wrapped as a gift.)

Another one I should have known before getting married is that as a single woman you should never drop your umbrella, the chances of getting married in the future will be in jeopardy.  It’s an interesting take for  a story.

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March 11, 2015

Our Digital Writers’ Café

Workplace_EpicantusWhen we were still at uni, Cecile, Sofia and I would meet up in the library, study hall or café to write together, or better said, we would sit together and each work on our own story.  This motivated us to write, and we wrote a lot!  We could pick each other’s brain if we got stuck, or have a little break from writing and laugh together.

But… times have changed.  We no longer live, study or work in the same city any more, and having children means we are a lot less mobile.  So where to find the time, energy or motivation to write?  The days slip by and the number of unwritten stories in my brain pile up.

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March 6, 2015

Reading Is for Girls

Reading, as a past-time activity, is still regarded as something girls do, and as something bothersome that has to be done for school (i.e. the marvellous and intriguing book reports).  Looking back at my schooldays, I have to say this is quite accurate.  During the primary school days reading was fun; it became a bit more serious by the time we had to give presentations on the book we had read, but it was still enjoyable.  It changed with my A-level years, where reading books was mainly a school related activity.  The choices were limited, the assignments predictable, and, basically, just enjoying a book was not much of an option.

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February 23, 2015

A Total Paper Book Lover

Vanessa's bookshelvesI choose bringing extra books instead of extra shoes when I go on holiday.  My husband, however, is more modern.  He simply takes his e-reader filled with a dozen books, giving him ample choice while sitting by the swimming pool.

I know all the advantages of an e-reader: lightweight, adaptable font size, etc.  I even know that they are technologically well created, your eyes won’t tire as they do when reading on a regular screen.  And yet, I can’t give up my paper books.  There’s something special about curling up on the couch with a paper book: the smell, the heft, the feel.  It’s more than just nostalgia speaking! Continue reading

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