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The “Future” is Closer than You Think

Posted by Michael Dolan on March 23, 2013 in Uncategorized |

You thought you were in control of the words bouncing around your head.  The author of a recent international survey of languages disagrees with you.

Speakers of a language with future markers are more likely to be successful than people who use language that make a strong distinction between today and some undefined “future.”  Language seems to lead to behavior.

Here’s the key point: “Similar analyses showed that speaking a language that does not have obligatory future markers, such as Mandarin, makes people accumulate more retirement assets, smoke less, exercise more, and generally be healthier in older age.  Countries’ national savings rates are also affected by language.  Having a larger proportion of people speaking languages that does not have obligatory future markers makes national savings rates higher.”

That conclusion comes from a Scientific American article about a study by Keith Chen of Yale Business School.

People who speak such languages as English, Korean, or Russian, which identify the future, are less prepared for the future.  Speakers of languages such as Mandarin that do not make a strong distinction between present and future are more ready for the future.

The magazine article sets the study into the contest of modern research into the connection between language and behavior.  Interesting.  See the article:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-language-effects-your-wealth-health

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