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If You're Fat, Broke, and Smoking, Blame Language

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the he-cannot-speak-it-good-like-we-do dept.

Science 297

First time accepted submitter derekmead writes "A Yale researcher says that culture differences how much money we save, how well we take care of ourselves, and other behavior indicative of taking the long view, are all based on language. His study argues that the way a language's syntax refers to the future (PDF) affects how its speakers perceive the future. For example, English and Greek make strong distinctions between the present and the future, while German doesn't, while English and Greek speakers are statistically poorer and in worse health than Germans. (The study includes a broader swath of languages/nationalities, but that's a start.)"

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missing verb (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38973455)

cultural differences _____ how much money we save?

Re:missing verb (5, Funny)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973623)

In German that word is unnecessary; submitter is just trying lose weight, get rich, and live healthier.

Re:missing verb (3, Funny)

ynp7 (1786468) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973933)

Five. The answer is five.

Re:missing verb (2)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974597)

Ja. Funf.

I'd love to see some numbers on this... (1)

xTantrum (919048) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974359)

but it's still interesting. FTFA

while English and Greek speakers are statistically poorer and in worse health than Germans.

Greece is in serious financial trouble and Quebec (primarily french) is going the same way [www.cbc.ca] and has been called the Greece of Canada.....interesting....and of course Germany is a economic powerhouse of the EU.

Re:I'd love to see some numbers on this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974403)

Greece is in serious financial trouble and Quebec (primarily french) is going the same way and has been called the Greece of Canada.....interesting....and of course Germany is a economic powerhouse of the EU.

You might want to check up on that. Germany isn't exactly rolling in money at the moment...

Re:I'd love to see some numbers on this... (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974569)

Because they gave it to the greeks. The Germany economy is the largest in the EU and the fourth largest in the world. I think you are the one who needs to check his facts.

Re:missing verb (1)

Ghostworks (991012) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974623)

cultural differences _____ how much money we save?

missing preposition

cultural differences IN how much money we save

jetzt (2)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973473)

Jetzt schreibe ich einen Satz.
Morgen werde ich noch einen schreiben.

... Just lost two pounds and made $10!

Re:jetzt (1)

chiefbutz (924863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973529)

Jetzt schreibe ich einen Satz. Morgen werde ich noch einen schreiben. ... Just lost two pounds and made $10!

Ja gut! Wir allen sollten nur Deutsch sprechen.

Re:jetzt (5, Funny)

djdanlib (732853) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973581)

Gesundheit.

Re:jetzt (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973595)

Your baffling language is infecting you with the plague of stupidity. We need to make the cleansing again. Yes I am using your dumb language to infect you and make you fatter and more broke you stupid English and Greek forward-tense bastards.
Heinrich

Re:jetzt (2)

mailman-zero (730254) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974275)

You used "werden," which is counter to what the article says. You should have said "Morgen schreibe ich noch einen." Now you are talking about tomorrow using the present tense, which, the author claims, will lead you to act as though the future is now (or something).

The Future ist Now! (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974331)

... the future is now (or something)...

Die Zukunft ist jetzt! (oder etwas)...

Re:jetzt (5, Informative)

antek9 (305362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974469)

Morgen werde ich noch einen schreiben.

... and there you made your mistake. While that's a grammatically and semantically correct sentence, you're more likely to phrase it as, "Morgen schreibe ich noch einen.", actually using present tense to convey a future statement. I won't bother to RTFA, so I'll never know the argument it's proposing, but there might be some sense to it. There _is_ a tendency to melt present and future in German, and maybe that does re-program everyone's synapses accordingly, maybe not.

Anyway, the whole point would even be more valid for the Japanese who don't even know a future tense.

And here, dear children, are two sayings that might convey the article's thesis, one in German, and one in Japanese:

"Was Du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf morgen!"
"Ashita yarou wa bakayarou!"

So, it's true... (5, Funny)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973485)

The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or the Americans. On the other hand, the French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or the Americans.

The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or the Americans. The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or the Americans.

Conclusion: Eat and drink what you like. It’s speaking English that kills you

Re:So, it's true... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38973553)

Or, more likely, being heavily influenced by American culture. See: "Man vs. Food", turning gluttony into an artform.

Re:So, it's true... (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973997)

No, he's turning it into a competitive spectacle thus inspiring others to follow in his footsteps.

Re:So, it's true... (4, Insightful)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974179)

Except the champion eater is Japanese.

Re:So, it's true... (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974491)

You don't have to be a champion to inspire other people to follow in your ever deepening footsteps, all you have to do is be able to consume 72oz of beef in a single sitting.

Re:So, it's true... (1)

mailman-zero (730254) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974315)

Where was the show Food Fight [wikipedia.org] created? Not the United States? "My stomach is a black hole!"

Re:So, it's true... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38973657)

Your conclusion is halfway there. English is not inherently dangerous, but most of the magazines, TV shows, and music from USA and GB is damaging in ways that would be Geneva Convention violations if used on a POW.

Re:So, it's true... (4, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973675)

I know, funny. But...

Give it 30 years. You'll find that the Japanese are following the trend of Americans. It's really the diet, hell if you've been to Okinawa in the last 10 years you can see it. Little chubby ass kids(and teens) running around all over the place. As they've turned their backs on the more traditional japanese staples.

Re:So, it's true... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38973793)

Or maybe it is not the fat that causes heart attacks.

Re:So, it's true... (2, Interesting)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973895)

On the other hand, the French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or the Americans.

Myth, for what it's worth (and I know it was a joke). It turned out to be due to under-reporting of heart attacks by French doctors.

Re:So, it's true... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974401)

Citation, please?

Re:So, it's true... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38973915)

How am i to did forgotten Engrish i lernd whain i be niner ages?

Re:So, it's true... (3, Insightful)

steelfood (895457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974537)

Hardly. Most of Europe is bilingual. It doesn't follow that people who know English either as a second or a first language are less healthy than people who don't know English at all.

Language, like all arts, is a reflection of the predominant culture. Culture is often what determines socio-economic status. Cultures that emphasize hard working and pride in work are probably going to be better employed. Cultures that emphasize intellect will probably be smarter. Cultures that emphasize creativity will probably be more innovative. And cultures that glamorize and romanticize trash will probably follow the same pattern.

Both language and socio-economic status reflect the values of a culture, but they do so independently. The English speakers of France and Italy are probably no more or less wealthy than the non-English speakers.

Whorfianism (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38973497)

Sounds like the return of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis [wikipedia.org]

Captcha: "nonsense".

Re:Whorfianism (2)

FullBandwidth (1445095) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973643)

Yep, same old BS. Publish or perish.

Re:Whorfianism (1)

thms (1339227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973679)

Sounds like the return of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis [wikipedia.org]

Just what I was thinking when I read the article. And then I had to think of the Marain [wikipedia.org] , a fictional constructed language in the Culture universe. I wonder if a society would actually decide to change their language if there was sufficient evidence that it hinders their cultural development. Sort of like the switch to the Latin alphabet as it happened for Vietnamese and Turkish, only a bit more invasive.

Re:Whorfianism (1)

fusiongyro (55524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974223)

I wonder if a society would actually decide to change their language if there was sufficient evidence that it hinders their cultural development.

And thus we have the return of Esperanto.

Re:Whorfianism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974535)

I was very disappointed that Lt. Cmdr. Worf was not mentioned anywhere in that article.

Re:Whorfianism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38973845)

Except, at least by my understanding, not really.

Sapir-Whorf is more about language influencing the way you think about and view the world; this is about your language influencing your physical being.

Re:Whorfianism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974011)

Try reading the summary next time:
"His study argues that the way a language's syntax refers to the future (PDF) affects how its speakers perceive the future."

"perceive the future"... See that?

You defined "Sapir-Whorf" as "language influencing the way you think about and view the world"

IT'S THE SAME FUCKING THING, YOU CUNT!

Why is this nonsense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974269)

Even the article you link to says research has shown it to hold up....

I believe him, but (3, Insightful)

roguegramma (982660) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973503)

I believe him, but a sample size of three languages is not convincing at all.

Re:I believe him, but (1)

MoldySpore (1280634) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973687)

I believe him...not convincing at all

Enough to convince you, though. ;)

Re:I believe him, but (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38973713)

I think he's full of crap. More exactly, he merely restates the Whorf hypothesis (badly and out of context) and then proceeds to misapply it.

Also, he apparently doesn't speak German, which uses a construction quite similar to that of English for forming the future tense ("I will go"/"Ich werde gehen"), and allows for substitution with the present in informal speech to about the same extent ("We're going to the library next weekend"/"Wir gehen nächstes Wochenende in die Bibliothek" vs. formal "We will go to the library next weekend"/"Wir werden nächstes Wochenende in die Bibliothek gehen").

Re:I believe him, but (1)

Flyerman (1728812) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973893)

I know this is Slashdot, but the sample size is a lot bigger.

Just RTFA.

Re:I believe him, but (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974031)

Don't even have to RTFA, just RTFS:

(The study includes a broader swath of languages/nationalities, but that's a start.)

Ok, but I maintain my criticism (1)

roguegramma (982660) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974455)

I'm not used to regression tests enough to comment on any particular regression coefficient in the tables.

However, the data seems to be awfully clustered, see page 12. Of 76 countries considered there, fully 59 are rated low FTR(no future required). Most datasets like that would exhibit artifacts in the form of notable regression coefficients.

In addition, I believe an expert in statistics would probably find that if you study such a dataset long enough, you will find some such correlations even if the dataset was generated randomly.

The graph on page 19 looks convincing at first, but take away the outliers Luxemburg and Greece, Luxemburg because it is bascially a huge city where you can earn lots of money by being the head of a shady company that is used by rich Greeks to evade taxes, and Greece, where the state's financial situation is very bad.

The next 8 countries basically take turns between low FTR and high FTR, it isn't much different for the next ten, and then it ends bascially in a block of low FTR

Also, as mentioned in the paper, if data suggests that natives using compass directions know better where north is, why would languages discerning less between future and now work the other way around?

Re:I believe him, but (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973971)

Which is why the researcher compared more than 120 languages. Of course, this is /. so the RA doesn't exist in this reality.

RTFA or, even, just TFS (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974599)

I believe him, but a sample size of three languages is not convincing at all.

The sample size isn't 3 languages (the table of languages, familes, and how they were coded takes up most of 3 pages.) There are three specific examples noted in TFS, with the further note "(The study includes a broader swath of languages/nationalities, but that's a start.)"

We are all hoping (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38973513)

That tomorrow never comes. For languages that don't distinguish between now and later, that would be the same as hoping that today never comes?

Communism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38973543)

Maybe communism was good for something other than starting a hate campaign against communist.

This will bake your noodle (2)

gottspeed (2060872) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973589)

How many people think in pure emotion and logic? Most people think in terms of language, and in that way language is in itself a prison for the mind.

Re:This will bake your noodle (1)

Brian Feldman (350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973779)

Language is more than just words and sentences. It is our underlying way of thought that allows for communication. This would probably be an enlightening lecture for you. Hell, it was for me, and I am a language geek:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csE-MsT_NN0&noredirect=1 [youtube.com]

Mr Yale Researcher (1, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973593)

correlation != causation

Re:Mr Yale Researcher (4, Funny)

raburton (1281780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973631)

Yes, you knew it was coming and here it is: http://xkcd.com/552/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Mr Yale Researcher (1)

Dorduan (1411877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973967)

correlation != causation

Exactly! Culture, language, and behaviour are highly entangled and although it's nice to see these correlations, proving that one is caused by the other is a completely different story.

Re:Mr Yale Researcher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38973995)

Thanks for restating paragraph #6 of the article.

Re:Mr Yale Researcher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974051)

Wow, you must have learned a lot in your Introduction to Statistics class to put a yale researcher in his/her place.

Good for you!

I wrote about this once myself (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38973621)

Unpublished of course, but I wrote a thesis in college about the role of language in the perception of time. Other than determining that an African language, Wolof, was particularly suited to discussing the particulars of time travel (it has some interesting tenses regarding subjective and relative time), I happened to come across a particularly fascinating report by a psychologist doing research for an advertising journal. He described various cultures' attitudes towards time that then influenced what they believed was important -- for example, Spanish-speaking cultures view time as cyclical, which made the present less important, or Native Americans, who don't exactly have a cultural perception of time at all, and tend to view time in consideration to the task at hand instead.

There are some interesting papers out there if you're really interested in this stuff.

"Native Americans" not a very homogeneous group (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974493)

...or Native Americans, who don't exactly have a cultural perception of time at all, and tend to view time in consideration to the task at hand instead.

Care to say which sociolinguistic group? Lumping all Native American cultures and languages together is about as helpful as saying " Europeans, who have a strong cultural perception of tuna fish sandwiches", or " Asians, who believe time flows from their belly buttons".

North America is a continent. There are a *lot* of different people here. There are a *lot* of different cultures and languages here. Speaking broadly about the people native to this place, about all you can say conclusively is that they are native to this place. And at that, only "native" relative to the latecomers who began arriving in the late 1400s. Making sweeping claims that any group this large all shares the same temporal perspective immediately casts doubt on anything else you have to say.

Re:I wrote about this once myself (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974581)

Are you suggesting that we have a primitive inbuilt biological capability for time travel, and we've essentially linguistically trained it out of ourselves since primitive man left Africa?

Multilinguals? (2)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973641)

If you know more than one fat, language, is the increase linear or exponential? Moreover, if I learn german, will I fit size 32 pants again?

Re:Multilinguals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974105)

No, but if you got out of the basement and went for a run you might.

Re:Multilinguals? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974217)

A healthy diet would help much more though, you would feel better and lose weight much faster than if you only began to exercise and didn't change any other habit.

Re:Multilinguals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974393)

"Moreover, if I learn german, will I fit size 32 pants again?"

No, but you'll fit in a German size 42 (32 inches in cm /2) which is exactly the same.

german has clear future tense (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973645)

German has future tense, it's Greek that has complicated situation where tense is not the important part but rather type of action, rather than time

Take some responsibility... (4, Interesting)

larys (2559815) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973651)

How about the language of taking responsibility for oneself? In psychology, there's something called an "external locus of control" versus an "internal locus of control". An example of an external locus of control would be someone saying: "I lost my job because my boss is a jerk" whereas an example of an internal locus of control would be: "I lost my job because I didn't do a good enough job." The fact is, when you place the control on something other than yourself -- language, the media, your parents, whatever -- you end up relinquishing responsibility and by doing so, what changes? If it's language's fault, it's not yours so you're still fat and smoking and broke and thinking it's language's fault doesn't change that. However, thinking to yourself, "I got myself here," puts the responsibility in your own hands...it's you now, so you can do something about it...

Take my word for it or don't but compare me to my brother and you'll see taking simple responsibility for oneself is literally the difference between not only fat, smoking, and broke...but educated, healthy, and prosperous as well...

Re:Take some responsibility... (-1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973723)

I lost my job because too many people voted for Republicans.

Re:Take some responsibility... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973747)

An example of an external locus of control would be someone saying: "I lost my job because my boss is a jerk" whereas an example of an internal locus of control would be: "I lost my job because I didn't do a good enough job."

What would "I lost my job because I work for an asshole?" qualify as?

Re:Take some responsibility... (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973799)

No matter how much you want to blame the victim, bad things really do happen to people because of circumstances outside of their control.

Your general message is a good one. People should be responsible for themselves. But claiming that the locus of control should always be internal simply flies in the face of reality.

For example, what if one's boss really is a jerk? No matter how hard you work to please him, you cannot. If you internalized that locus of control, you would conclude that there is something terribly wrong with you. That's not a healthy frame of mind at all.

Re:Take some responsibility... (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973953)

Oh, I should also point out that if you happen to be more fortunate than others, internalizing your good fortune is a great way to feel superior. Obviously, someone in that position is going to be biased into thinking he got there on his own, instead of being extraordinarily lucky.

Re:Take some responsibility... (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974103)

No matter how much you want to blame the victim, bad things really do happen to people because of circumstances outside of their control.

Your general message is a good one. People should be responsible for themselves. But claiming that the locus of control should always be internal simply flies in the face of reality.

For example, what if one's boss really is a jerk? No matter how hard you work to please him, you cannot. If you internalized that locus of control, you would conclude that there is something terribly wrong with you. That's not a healthy frame of mind at all.

If your boss really is a jerk, then it was your fault because you were stupid enough to take a job working for a jerk, and you'll never do that again. If your old boss wasn't a jerk, but your new boss is a jerk, then it's your fault for lingering after you recognized that your new boss was a jerk instead of moving on, and you'll never do that again.

Effective people find a way to bring their life under control.

Re:Take some responsibility... (1)

larys (2559815) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974387)

You really seem to have gotten what I said in my post. The world isn't black and white so it's not a matter of something being only internal or external, it's a matter of finding where you can take responsibility and doing so to the fullest extent so that you can change your life. Too often, people like to take the easy way out and just blame others without making any changes but the fact is, even in a horribly unfortunate situation that isn't even remotely your own fault, you can still find some way of changing or improving upon the way you live your life to either avoid the situation happening again or making it easier the next time. It truly is a matter of perspective and in the end, if someone wants to find blame only in others, they will...it's not difficult...but their own life will greatly suffer for it...all they need to do is look around for evidence of that.

Re:Take some responsibility... (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974437)

then it was your fault because you were stupid enough to take a job working for a jerk

What if you didn't know he was a jerk beforehand? What if you knew he was a jerk, but didn't know how much of one that he was? You should have investigated the matter more carefully (and you needed the job)?

Regardless, it's the boss's fault that he is a jerk, not yours.

Re:Take some responsibility... (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974523)

When you work for a jerk, you elevate him. Technically, it's only his fault that he's a jerk. It's your fault that he's the boss.

Re:Take some responsibility... (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974629)

Heh, if Atlas ever Shrugs, rich jerks are going to fall like raindrops...

Re:Take some responsibility... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974109)

If your boss is really a jerk they you have to take responsibility for taking the job. Once you have taken that responsibility the control you have is the ability to find a new job.

Re:Take some responsibility... (1)

larys (2559815) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974613)

You didn't seem to get the point of what I wrote. The world isn't black and white and neither is responsibility. Even in the most terrible and unfortunate accident, someone who wants to take responsibility for their lives will find a way to improve the situation, prevent it from happening again, or find a way of making it better next time. If you want to find fault in others, you will, whether they have fault or not. The same goes for taking responsibility. No, it's not your fault that your boss is a jerk. But then ask yourself what you could do... Why did you even take a job with him? Did you continue to look for other jobs after being hired by such a person? Did you report his behavior to his supervisor? Did you seek out other credentials in your spare time to aid in getting a job in a better place? I could go on indefinitely because there is always something you could do differently.

You don't decide what the world looks like but you can decide how to look at it and what to do with what you get. Neither you nor anyone else on this planet is some helpless, immobile being at the sheer mercy of the world around them because even if there's nothing physical that you can do, you can still change your mind and the way you look at things.

Re:Take some responsibility... (3, Insightful)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973807)

Sometimes external is more appropriate.

E.g. "I am bleeding to death because that asshole shot me." instead of "I am bleeding to death because I failed to duck in time."

But your point and the article's point are not exclusive. Awareness of the ways that language shapes your thoughts can help you exert more control over your life and take greater responsibility for what happens to you.

Huh (4, Funny)

ciaohound (118419) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973737)

I expected this to be about programming languages. I've known a lot of fat, broke, chain-smoking COBOL programmers.

Re:off-topic (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974333)

I expected this to be about programming languages. I've known a lot of fat, broke, chain-smoking COBOL programmers.

I prefer to call them COBOL Developers, for reasons that should be obvious.

English Kills (2)

_0x783czar (2516522) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973743)

So how does this study relate to programming syntax? Are you more likely to get rich and live happy & healthy if you use a Strongly Typed language or a Weak Typed Language? Are GOTO statements bad for your health an well being?

Re:English Kills (1)

antek9 (305362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974645)

Are GOTO statements bad for your health an well being?

They are most helpful for your health, because what good is being able to instantiate as many instances of a gym as you like if you can't go to any of them?

"Us Americans"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38973795)

This is nitpicking, but a piece about language and syntax should not begin with such an obvious grammatical error.

its long study (1)

pjr.cc (760528) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973825)

So i just skimmed it... however i'd find it hard to believe that such a thing is provable to any real extent. There are just too many other factors to play with when trying to apply such a broad brush.

simply put, the language you speak often dictates who you listen too, us here in AU, and no doubt in canada are greatly influenced by what happens in the US - though it wasnt always that way for us (AU) prior to the internet. There were certainly influences, but now those influences are faster and more prevalent. As such, AU'ers themselves are also less healthy, more fat, and more likely to spend money then they were say 50 years ago - yet we still spoke the same language.

Thats a pretty simple example, but in AU, alot of a social infrastruture has changed to be more like the US - AU used to provide much of its services by govt owned facilities - these days the reverse is true, and this impacts health care, so people without money are less healthy (perhaps).

My ultimate point being that today there are just too many other factors at work that could have larger impacts then simply the language you think and any proof derived from such would probably be easily flawed. My humble opinion anyway.

Some help with "Morgen regnet es" in TFA (1)

billrp (1530055) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973835)

The article says "Morgen regnet es" in German translates to "It will rain tomorrow". But translate.google.com says it translates to "Tomorrow it's raining", which does not requre the "will", which seems critical to TFA's thesis. Can a German-speaker please say what is the common sentence to express the possibility of rain tomorrow? Google translates "It will rain tomorrow" to "Es wird morgen regnen".

Re:Some help with "Morgen regnet es" in TFA (1)

Shoe Puppet (1557239) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974021)

I'd use "Morgen soll es regnen". ("supposedly, it will rain tomorrow" or more literarily translated: "It shall rain tomorrow").

Re:Some help with "Morgen regnet es" in TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974047)

Here you go, google translate is correct:

Morgen regnet es It rains tomorrow / Tomorrow it's raining
I don't see any difference in terms of tenses in German or English.

Morgen wird es regnen/Es wird morgen regnen It will rain tomorrow
Same here, it is basically a literal word-to-word correspondence between the two languages

Re:Some help with "Morgen regnet es" in TFA (1)

trip23 (727132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974089)

You are right on spot. "Morgen regnet es" is just a short form of "Morgen wird es regnen"/"Tomorrow it will rain". "Morgen"/"Tomorrow" places this in the future, leaving out the "wird"/"will". The phrase emphasises a bit that it will rain because it's obvious.

Re:Some help with "Morgen regnet es" in TFA (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974177)

You could say "Morgen regnet es". People will understand what you're saying, and it is grammatically acceptable. However, it is far more common to say "Morgen wird es regnen" or even "Es wird morgen regnen", which translates to "Tomorrow it will rain". To some extent, there is a bit of a difference in certainty that you're expressing. The more appropriate example would be "Morgen gehe ich nach Hause", which works just like "Morgen werde ich nach Hause gehen", and which both translate to "I will go home tomorrow". There is a similarity in English here: you can say "I go home tomorrow", which would be a response to the question "When will you go home?" There are some subtle differences between the two sentence structures, but by and large, neither one is wrong to indicate a future action.

Then again, I never was that strong in German grammar, and it's been a while since I last spoke German regularly. But I'm pretty sure that the Yale researcher is dramatically overstating his case. German has a well-functioning and -used future tense. While I believe that language does shape your perception (can you think of a thought for which you do not have a word?), he is doing a sloppy job of understanding the nuances of at least the German language.

Re:Some help with "Morgen regnet es" in TFA (1)

Clarious (1177725) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974233)

I'm not a native German speaker, just someone who is learning the language. In that sentence, 'Morgen' (morning) already implies will happen in the future, so the 'werden' (as 'will' in this case) is not needed. Without it, the sentence will be "Es wird bald regnen", or "I will rain soon".
(I have been studying only for 2 years, so take what I said with a grain of salt).

How doomed am I (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38973857)

Since I can only speak English and Greek (and I also live in Greece)

Ho logos . . . (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974633)

Ho logos . . pleres charitos kai aletheas.

(Roman transliteration of inscription on the scroll of the Northwestern University seal, excerpted form John 1:14 in the Christian New Testament)

Repeat after me: (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973883)

Correlation does not show causation.

Re:Repeat after me: (1)

trip23 (727132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974579)

Correlation does not show causation.

Having skimmed over the document, it tries to connect an assumption with linguistic terms and formulas in order prove this assumption. It's a work of one who excels at cocktail parties or executive meetings without real scientific value.

yale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38973889)

researchers are ID10Ts, ya'll

This article is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38973959)

Fake and gay.

Un huh. (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38973985)

Let's see, From time to time, Americans and even residents of the United Kingdom have been wealthier than Germans (actually, isn't that the case right now?), and also I believe that the Greeks have had their moments in the Sun. Are these shifts in fortune to be blamed on changes in language ? China 400 years ago was wealthy, then 100 years ago it was not, now it is becoming wealthy again. Has the Chinese language changed, and then changed back, in a way to be responsible for that as well ? For that matter, is every language in Africa somehow deficient ?

Pardon me if I doubt this.

On the other hand, if Newt Gingrich announces tomorrow that, if he is elected, the lunar colonists will get a new, revised, English to make them healthier and more economically competitive, I can't say I would be too surprised.

Maybe (1)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974001)

Or maybe the prevalence of fast food, and advertising makes a difference not to mention education.

"That's future Homer's problem." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974067)

"Boy, I sure don't envy that guy!"

I must say, i feel insulted!! (1)

konmpar (1822540) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974159)

No, i didn't read the full article but by doing a fast search i could find anywhere in the text something, anything that would confirm that: Greek speakers are statistically poorer and in worse health than Germans.

Why you wrote such a description?? Did YOU even read the article before posting it??

Re:I must say, i feel insulted!! (1)

konmpar (1822540) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974189)

No, i didn't read the full article but by doing a fast search i could find anywhere in the text something, anything that would confirm that: Greek speakers are statistically poorer and in worse health than Germans. Why you wrote such a description?? Did YOU even read the article before posting it??

couldn't***

Quite indeed. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974195)

Im also checking out japanese for some time now. the way sentences are structured always places the emphasis/main point at the end of the sentences. therefore, you have to wait for the sentence to end, to get the full meaning. only in situations that are quite evident, you can grasp what the person is saying from start-mid of the sentence. in general, you have to wait. coincidentally 'reading the sitaution/atmosphere' seems to be a common metaphor that is used/practiced in the japanese culture. as for the main point, japanese culture is quite shaped with a practice of being patient/persevering things through the end. it even reflects on their pop culture.

Maybe because in Germany.... (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38974203)

People are healthier in Germany? Maybe because Germany has universal health care.

People are better off financially in Germany? Maybe because Germany still has a strong manufacturing base and fair wages paid to workers instead of high CEO salaries.

Just a thought.

Has English changed in fifty years? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38974229)

The basic structure of English hasn't changed a lot in fifty years. On the other hand, the body shape of English speakers sure has changed. We are much more obese.

My favourite stereotype of Germans is that they are a bunch of fat beer guzzling guys in lederhosen. If we chose the right times and places, we could show that Germans were fat and Americans were thin.

The thesis, that we as a nation are obese because of the language we speak, doesn't stand up to even cursory inspection.

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