The language you use affects your ability to save money

Why do some people save more than others? Germans save 10 percentage points more than the British do (as a fraction of GDP), while Estonians and Chinese save a whopping 20 percentage points more than Greeks and Indians. Economists think a lot about what drives people to save, but many of these international differences remain unexplained. In this TED Talk,  discover why countries differ not only in how much their residents save for the future, but also how their native speakers talk about the future.  The presenter is behavioral economist Keith Chen.

The best bit:

So for example,

if I’m speaking in English, I have to speak grammatically differently if I’m talking about past rain, “It rained yesterday,” current rain, “It is raining now,” or future rain, “It will rain tomorrow.” Notice that English requires a lot more information with respect to the timing of events. Why? Because I have to consider that and I have to modify what I’m saying to say, “It will rain,” or “It’s going to rain.” It’s simply not permissible in English to say, “It rain tomorrow.”

In contrast to that, that’s almost exactly what you would say in Chinese. A Chinese speaker can basically say something that sounds very strange to an English speaker’s ears. They can say, “Yesterday it rain,” “Now it rain,” “Tomorrow it rain.” In some deep sense, Chinese doesn’t divide up the time spectrum in the same way that English forces us to constantly do in order to speak correctly.

Is this difference in languages only between very, very distantly related languages, like English and Chinese? Actually, no. So many of you know, in this room, that English is a Germanic language. What you may not have realized is that English is actually an outlier. It is the only Germanic language that requires this. For example, most other Germanic language speakers feel completely comfortable talking about rain tomorrow by saying, “Morgen regnet es,” quite literally to an English ear, “It rain tomorrow.”

This led me, as a behavioral economist, to an intriguing hypothesis. Could how you speak about time, could how your language forces you to think about time, affect your propensity to behave across time? You speak English, a futured language. And what that means is that every time you discuss the future, or any kind of a future event, grammatically you’re forced to cleave that from the present and treat it as if it’s something viscerally different. Now suppose that that visceral difference makes you subtly dissociate the future from the present every time you speak. If that’s true and it makes the future feel like something more distant and more different from the present, that’s going to make it harder to save. If, on the other hand, you speak

a futureless language, the present and the future, you speak about them identically. If that subtly nudges you to feel about them identically, that’s going to make it easier to save.

 Figure below measures the percent of time weather forecasts use future vs. present tenses

Graph of Future Tense Use

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How do babies learn new languages? Astonishing new findings

In this TED video, Patricia Kuhl shares astonishing findings about how babies learn one language over another — by listening to the humans around them and “taking statistics” on the sounds they need to know. Clever lab experiments (and brain scans) show how 6-month-old babies use sophisticated reasoning to understand their world.

Why do babies pick up language easily? There is widespread acceptance amongst the language learning community

that children pick up languages easily. How they do this is not as well understood.

According to Kuhl, cheap car insurance quotes babies are listening intently to us, they are “taking statistics” depending on how adults talk. In this video, she gives some examples of Japanese and American babies learning their native language.

In English, babies use a lot of RA and LA. But the Japanese do not, so the study shows that though both Japanese and American babies respond early on to the same RA and LA sounds, but somehow as the babies grow older the American babies respond better to RA and LA, but the Japanese babies deteriorate ie. what sounds babies are exposed to matter.

Bilingual babies have to keep two sets of “statistics”. Do they get confused?

Kuhl tested sets of American vs Taiwanese babies at 6-8 months vs 10-12 months

The experiment exposed American babies to Mandarin sounds at these time intervals. American babies exposed to a Mandarin speaker over 12 sessions have equivalent respoonses to those living in Taiwan. This is an amazing finding.

Kuhl then tried to replicate this with audio and TV/video.  If the baby is exposed to audio alone or TV/video alone, babies do not absorb the “statistics”. Only human interaction matters. This has enormous implications for parents

who spend thousands of dollars buying video/audio packs for babies in French, Spanish, Mandarin etc.

Kuhl closed her lecture with some food for thought.

In investigating the child’s brain, we will discover deep truths about what it means to be human. And in the process we may be able to help keep our own minds open to learning for our entire lives.

Watch the video. Highly recommended for everyone, not just parents with kids.

Posted via email from Euroasia

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