How your language shapes your understanding of the world?

In Natural Geographic of Juli 2012, you can read: "I'm seeing the world through the looking glass of this language" / "It alters your thinking, your worldview." Language shapes human experience - our very cognition - as it goes about classifying the world to make sense of the circumstances at hand.

I remember of two examples I studied in class.
I learned that we do not name the same colors in the rainbow according to the language we speak. And we do not even have the same amount of colors in the rainbow.
The Eskimos have a lot of different words to describe the snow and the ice. Much more than we actually have in English.

I know I do not think the same way when I speak French, German or English. Have you ever noticed that the French rarely finish their sentences and that they easily interrupt each other when they speak? In German, I most of the time wait until the end of my interlocutor's speech. I pause. I think. And then I answer. (NB: I need to wait until the end of the sentence where the verb is most of the time to understand the sentence's meaning.) When I was in Canada, I once experienced difficulties to take part of a group conversation. Every time I wanted to speak, somebody else got the turn. I realized at that moment that the accepted silence length between each turn was actually shorter for the group than for me. Even if it was a millisecond difference, I was totally powerless to get any turn in the conversation.

What about you? What did you experience which shows that your language shapes your understanding of the world?

Posted on May 8, 2014 and filed under Cultures / Intercultural.