When people start learning and using a new language, some of them notice that they come across differently, almost as if they have a different personality. Could this be because they lack finesse in the new language? Or does the language we speak really shape our personality? A person’s personality is usually seen as a set of qualities and behaviors that are stable over time and across different situations. This is why it may be counterintuitive to think that it could change when speaking a different language.
It is the year 2049. We now co-exist with artificial intelligence. Human-like agents are completely integrated into our society and work regular jobs. They act and look fully human. Like in the dystopian movie ‘Blade Runner’, inspired by Philip K. Dick’s novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, or the more recent TV series ‘Westworld’, the humanoids can imitate all the outward signals we attribute to consciousness, and appear entirely self-aware. In other words, we have reached the point in time at which technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unforeseeable changes to human civilization.
Language policies are structural elements of colonial domination because they undermine the cultural identity of the subdued populations. Here I will discuss the checkered relationship between language and imperialism, paying special attention to the Dutch case. A story of language, power and inequalities.
The weather. Ugh, yeah I know, the weather. Possibly the most common thing we all like to complain about and also a (stereo?) typical topic of small talk. In every language course I have ever taken, words and phrases describing weather phenomena are among the first I learned. Speakers of languages all around the world love talking about it and with the UN climate report released recently, I cannot imagine us stopping any time soon. However, we don’t all talk about the weather in the same way.
For most of us, the languages that we are — primarily or exclusively —exposed to as a child, becomes our native languages as an adult. This, of course, does not come as a surprise, nor as breaking news. It is almost always the case that, from the moment children are born until they start school, they are raised in a natural environment where they are constantly in interaction with the languages of their parents, and, if different, the languages of their society. Thus, their birth languages as infants become their dominant languages as adults. However, for some children, namely adoptees, this is not the case.