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Poll: Do you think your native language has contributed to shaping your character?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 05:42
SITE STAFF
Jun 4, 2008

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you think your native language has contributed to shaping your character?".

This poll was originally submitted by Gemma Monco Waters

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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María Eugenia Wachtendorff  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 09:42
English to Spanish
+ ...
No Jun 4, 2008

I guess the question should have been "If you are living in a foreign country, do you think...?" Otherwise, I don't see how...

I will follow this poll with great interest!


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Catherine Winzer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:42
German to English
+ ...
language and culture Jun 4, 2008

I opted for "yes", though I'm not sure that it was the language alone, but rather the combination of language and culture (as I don't think you can really separate the two).

I would most definitely say that my culture has had a significant impact on my character. I don't know to what extent you could say that culture was defined by the language or the language by the culture - as I said, you can't really separate them.

The English, for example, are inclined to (try to) be diplomatic, not wanting to offend or put anyone out, which is reflected (and encouraged) by such phrases as "Would you mind...?", "Do you think you could...?"
I think that this mindset has influenced my own character (for better or worse!).

A very interesting question, at any rate!


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Crystal Samples  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:42
French to English
+ ...
Yes, but... Jun 4, 2008

I chose "yes", but upon further reflection, I think it is my culture that has shaped my character more than just the being an English-speaker. I am every bit the laid-back American (especially being from the South), and I know I have a bit of that American-optimism in my character as well.

In other words, it is not just the English, but the VARIANT of English that has helped to make me who I am. Southern American English. (Although I am told that I don't have much of a "Southern Accent", I am very much a Southern girl.)


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Monika Jakacka Márquez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:42
Member (2006)
Polish to Spanish
+ ...

MODERATOR
No, but my foreign language did Jun 4, 2008

In my opinion, my first FOREIGN language (Spanish from Spain) has contributed to shaping my character. And more than language, it was a whole Spanish culture what considerably conditioned my character and way of thinking or acting. I guess that I wouldn't be so open-minded and warm-hearted (as, at least, I think that I am) if I hadn't have contact with another culture than my native one.

M.


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:42
English to Arabic
+ ...
Reminds me of an earlier discussion Jun 4, 2008

I remember there was a discussion here a few months ago, on which it was suggested that languages shaped national characters. I think this poll is presuming that the same thing may be possible.
I believe it would be more plausible to say that the influence went the other way round: that the way a language developed may have something to do with the national character of the people who speak it (and I'm aware that the issue of the existence of a "national character" is very controversial among a lot of people).

----
Here's the discussion http://www.proz.com/forum/linguistics/92597-the_national_language_and_the_national_character.html


[Edited at 2008-06-04 22:19]


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Erzsébet Czopyk  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 14:42
Member (2006)
Russian to Hungarian
+ ...
I do not see any connection Jun 4, 2008

Definitely not.
My character and my language? Oh not! If language was related to character, I should born somehere ...else, but who knows where, maybe somewhere in the south, in some kind of country full of sanguins. Honestly, I am native Hungarian with an ancient Polish family name (my grandfather was from Poland, but currently this city belongs to Ukraine), my other gradfather - clear Hungarian, the grandmas - one Jewish and one Gipsy. Interesting that my grandma never learned Polish and the granfather also never Hungarian, so they talk to and wrote letters each other always in German). Everybody died before I was born, I grow up here in Hungary and now, when I once had a conflict situation with an old woman on the street (she almost hit with a small Nazi flag my eyeglasses, and I asked her in a very polite way to be more careful), she looked into my face and told me I am a da*** Je*** who should immediately fly away from Hungary... first I was shocked, but a minute later I smiled and asked:
Would you mind an airplane ticket to Bombay, to Tel-Aviv or to Varsaw? Or, if I say, my mother tongue is Hungarian, you let me to stay here?
So, I am a sanguine Hungarian talker, or a sanguine and Hungarian and a talker, but I do not see any connection between these facts


[Módosítva: 2008-06-04 22:28]


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:42
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Absolutely! Jun 4, 2008

My entire world view is shaped by my mother tongue. Isn't that the premise for the linguistic theory developed by Andre Martinet?

Think about it: My native language makes distinctions between hope, expect, and wait. Try to explain those subtleties to a speaker of Spanish, who only knows "esperar". Yet I struggle with the differences between 'ser' and 'estar' that seem obvious yet hard to put in words by a speaker of Spanish. We only see the nuances when they are contrasted with a language that does not have them, but they permeate the language and go a long way toward shaping our character as speakers of English - or whatever language we happen to have learned in the cradle.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:42
English to Spanish
+ ...
Both of them have Jun 4, 2008

I was born a character, but it has been shaped by two languages and cultures (actually more than two cultures), so I guess that means I am even more of a character because of it.

Makes life more interesting...


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Crater Industryism
Indonesia
Local time: 19:42
English to Indonesian
Yes Jun 5, 2008

My character is influenced by language, my language by geographic environment.
Living in a noisy city in the northern shores of Java, I'm loud, straightforward, and crude because my native language is spoken in such manner.


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Erzsébet Czopyk  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 14:42
Member (2006)
Russian to Hungarian
+ ...
the right place Jun 5, 2008

Sani Almuna wrote:

My character is influenced by language, my language by geographic environment.
Living in a noisy city in the northern shores of Java, I'm loud, straightforward, and crude because my native language is spoken in such manner.


Hi Shani, it means I 've found the perfect place for my next life


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Wrong and non-sense question Jun 5, 2008

Anthropologically speaking (or you apply whatever academic discipline you think is appropriate), language is a part of culture, and culture shapes people's thinking mode or perception.
The thinking/perception mode may or may not influence your **personal** character .... assuming **character** here is that of personal.

This question is in assumption that personal character = national (or collective) character.
The question should be "Do you think your native language has contributed to shaping your **national** OR **collective** character as a person of xxxx nationality".

Otherwise this makes no sense.


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Chun Un  Identity Verified
Macau
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
+ ...
World view versus character Jun 5, 2008

I think my world view is shaped by my mother tongue, which is Chinese. I tend to agree with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. But my character has been influenced by many factors, among which language is perhaps NOT the most important.

[Edited at 2008-06-05 03:53]


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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Well... Jun 5, 2008

Erzsébet Czopyk wrote:

Sani Almuna wrote:

My character is influenced by language, my language by geographic environment.
Living in a noisy city in the northern shores of Java, I'm loud, straightforward, and crude because my native language is spoken in such manner.


Hi Shani, it means I 've found the perfect place for my next life


You could as well go to my native hometown in Southern Italy, we are exactly the same: loud, straightforward and crude, even if this happens more with the dialect, not with the official language.

Anyway, I don't identify with my language at all, but I cannot say in which percentage my native language influenced my character or personality. The only thing I know for sure is that I usually speak pretty loud (but this may be due, as I said, to my local area, not to my whole country...).


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Nigel Greenwood  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:42
Member (2008)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, I think it has Jun 5, 2008

I came to live in Spain in 1973. Not speaking the local language I started to 'teach' English. After that I always seem to get involved in professional work because of my native tongue. In addition, although Spain is now a full memeber of the EU, there is still a culture difference. Even just recently, I was offered a full time post in a lawyer's office, because of my language and to 'assist' fellow contrymen to adapt themselves to the the spanish way of doing things. So, 'YES', my native tongue has formed my way of life.

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