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The old proverb says that as you learn a new language, you gain a new soul. I have a few friends with whom we can talk in languages that are not native to us.

It was not even a question whether I would raise my children teaching them not only the native language. All four of us can talk and write in three languages, myself, I  understand two more but hardly speak in them.

The Babylonian myth conveys the idea of a utopian world where we would all speak one language and understand each other. In fact, however, linguistic diversity is important for the development and survival of mankind from an evolutionary perspective. 

Another myth can be used here: supposedly Eskimos have a hundred words to describe the snow – even if it is just a myth, it perfectly illustrates how different languages reflect and empower different worldviews. There is no single language that can explain and cover the world. The more languages we learn, the more we distance ourselves from the only ethnocentric truth and realize that there is not only one right one.

In a word, multilingualism is enriching, giving a person not only a higher IQ but also multiple identities. It has been scientifically proven that multilingual people have a faster reaction in stressful situations because they are used to constantly process conflicting information. 

© Fortune, 2009

  • Do you know more than only your native language?

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Written by Fortune


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  1. It is one of my regrets that I never gave enough time to language learning, with the result that I can just about get by in French and German – but only just! Two languages that I would love to learn are Welsh and Russian – particularly Welsh, haven’t spent several years in Welsh-speaking parts of Wales in my youth and many holidays since.

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