News for Tuesday, May 2, 2017

How the Languages We Speak Shape The Ways We Think: SAR Lecture Series Continues

Lera BoroditskyLera BoroditskyLera Boroditsky

To have a second language is to have a second soul, said Charlemagne around 800 AD. Each language has its own cognitive toolkit, says psychologist/linguist Lera Boroditsky. The question of whether the languages we speak shape the ways we think has been at the center of controversy for centuries, and with good reason. The School for Advanced Research is pleased to welcome Dr. Boroditsky on May 18, 2017, for How the Languages We Speak Shape the Ways We Think, part of its Public Lecture Series, Crossing Global Frontiers, at 6:30 p.m. at James A. Little Theatre.

Do people who speak different languages think differently? Do languages merely express thoughts, or do they secretly shape the very thoughts we wish to express? Are some thoughts unthinkable without language? Why do we think the way we do? Why does the world appear to us the way it does? Humans communicate with one another using 7,000 or so different languages, and each language differs from the next in innumerable ways. At stake are basic questions all of us have about ourselves, human nature, and reality. Boroditsky will discuss research conducted around the world and focus on how language shapes the way we think about color, space, time, causality, and agency.

Lera Boroditsky is an associate professor of cognitive science at University of California, San Diego and editor in chief of Frontiers in Cultural Psychology. She previously served on the faculty at MIT and at Stanford. Her research is on the relationships between mind, world, and language (or how humans get so smart). She has been named a 25 Visionaries Changing the World by the Utne Reader, and is also a Searle Scholar, a McDonnell scholar, recipient of an NSF Career award, and an APA Distinguished Scientist lecturer. She once used the Indonesian exclusive “we” correctly before breakfast, and was proud of herself about it all day.

Her research has been widely featured in the media, including dozens of articles across outlets like the New York Times, The Economist, Newsweek, the Boston Globe, and Scientific American. She has also written for the popular press on topics in language and cognition, including feature articles in the Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and The Economist.

Seminars About Long-term Thinking, October 2010, How Language Shapes Thought
Scientific American, February 2011, How Language Shapes Thought
NPR, January 2014, How Language Seems to Shape One’s View of the World

All lectures in the Public Lecture Series, which runs through June 2017, will be held at the James A. Little Theater at the New Mexico School for the Deaf, 1060 Cerrillos Road, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and are free to SAR members. Nonmembers are $10.00. Please register at

This lecture is sponsored by La Fonda on the Plaza. The entire lecture series is made possible through the generous support of Adobo Catering, the Betty and Luke Vortman Endowment Fund, Pajarito Scientific Corporation, the Flora Crichton Lecture Fund, Thornburg Investment Management, Shiprock Santa Fe, and SAR members, with additional support provided by Santa Fe Dining, Inc. For more information about the 2016-2017 Public Lecture Series, visit or contact Laura Sullivan (505) 954-7238 or sullivan[at]

Follow us: