Through the Language Glass Summary – Language Reflects Cognition

Author: Guy Deutscher

Through the Language Glass (2010) by Guy Deutscher uses linguistic relativity to communicate the influence of language on one’s thoughts and the expressive ability of a person. Language makes a person, and it is powerful enough to influence his thoughts, ability to express his opinions, culture, and even conventions found in a society.

Detailed Summary of Through the Language Glass

The book is divided into different parts. Deutscher gives a brief history of language and illustrates different experiments with examples to define language. And also its influence on an individual human being, community, society, and the whole world.

He gives the idea that language forces one to express ideas in a particular way. Moreover, he expresses that a difference in grammatical structure, syntax, and diction can change one’s language and culture perception. He even describes how the difference in perception and language can affect the gendered noun and its related meaning in a language.

A speaker would give gendered-specific properties to a gender-specific word, thus influencing our ideas and perception of the world.  Moreover, language association can also influence our ability to recall information. One would easily remember gender-specific names and properties if they were similar to the ones found in one’s language.

Also, culture is both affected by language and affects language. One uses arbitrary names for different things found in his surroundings. However, he cannot use a name for something not found in his surroundings. This influences languages and, on a larger point, influences culture.

Through the Language Glass Summary Key Points

Does culture influence language? Are different languages have different meanings of words? What do you think? Language reflects our perceptions, culture, norms, attitudes, and beliefs. In simple words, language, culture, and beliefs are intertwined.

As we all know, every community has its specific language, which defines the people who live there. They have a specific set of tone, pitch, and diction. The following key points will share how language affects our brains and how it shapes our perception.

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Language reflects Culture

A particular language influences the culture of a country and nation. The logical and stoic people in a country reflect the more complex language. Where they are immersed in learning the intricacy of their language and lose the expressive power of a language.

Each community or society has its specific sets of words. Gladstone claimed that Homer’s choice of words seems odd by modern standards. He had a limited understanding of color, limited mostly to light and dark, like the rest of the Ancient Greeks. He described items like honey and just-picked twigs as chlôros (green), a color that is neither black nor white.

Language is Related to Arbitrary Naming or to Perception

Language influences our naming ability. As language is influenced by nature, one can have different words for the same things in different parts of the world. Also, language changes from one generation to another as different generations’ perceptions are not similar. Therefore, people influence language, and it affects ones naming ability and perception. 

Languages can Affect our Thoughts by Controlling

Language influences one’s ability to express. As our perception influences by language, it can affect how we express words, opinions, ideas, and thoughts in different ways. Different things can expressed differently in different parts of the world as the language of a particular region, country, and locality influences them.

Language reflects culture through the complexity of its grammatical structures

The world’s languages are complex; however, their degree of complexity differs from one another, and these complexities are reflected in their culture. These complexities of language describe the social structure of a society.

But most of all, the morphology of a language reflects the shared context found in a society. In a complex language, there is a more complex morphology of words and less context shared between individuals, groups, or communities. 

Sophisticated Society Does Not Relate to Sophisticated Word Formation

Guy Deutscher’s analysis revealed a significant relationship between a society’s level of complexity and the number of distinctions expressed within the word. However, contrary to what Joe, Piers, and Tom might expect, advanced and powerful societies do not necessarily have refined word structures.

On the contrary, there is an indirect relationship between societal difficulty and word formation! The more information that likely to mark in the word, the more information that likely to keep within the word, and the more complex the society and the use of language in it.

Through the Language Glass Book Summary Quotes:

“Fluent speech, there are no real spaces between words, so when two words frequently appear together they can easily fuse into one.” –Guy Deutscher

Through the Language Glass Summary Review

 This book is book that introduces language in a fun way but is both practical and backed up by research. It is not a new concept, but how it is written makes reading fun, exciting, and exhilarating. It is written so that a reader would not get bored while reading.

One can quickly gain enough knowledge about language, its sociolinguistics aspects, and how different researchers experimented with giving a conclusion on why language is influential on a human being.

This book will help one answer all the questions about language and its expressive ability. It would also make a human aware of language similarities and differences. And how these lead to different perceptions of a human being.

One can easily get lost in the wonders of language, its history, and the different findings from researchers and their conclusion.

To Whom I Would Recommend Through the Language Glass Book Summary

  • To a younger teen who always baffles by the world’s different languages.
  • An old person who would love to read about languages and their influence on his perception of the world.
  • To a curious person who wants to understand language and why we have different languages in the world.
  • An academician who wants to research language and its influence on people.