10 Things to Know About the Psychology of Language

Language is a form of communication, whether it is verbal or written, that we all take part in each day. We may be talking to coworkers, family, friends, significant others, strangers, or even ourselves. Regardless of who we are reaching, we use with language every day. Language is the main component of our daily interactions. It is also what all relationships, regardless of their intensity, are based on. 

There are many different languages and dialects around the world. We tend to primarily interact with the people who speak the same language as us. However, this doesn’t take away from the concept that language psychologically links us all to each other. It weaves us all together. Here are 10 things to know about the psychology of language…

Studying the psychology of language is actually a career.

Psycholinguistics is a science that studies how we, as humans, use language. It studies how we understand, produce, and receive language. The science also evaluates illnesses and issues that have to do with language. The definition is in the same, when you take a second to break it down. A psycholinguistic pulls their information from two massive components. Psychology breaks down human thoughts, behaviors and emotions. Linguists break down language and its intentions. When these are combined we are able to understand all parts of language and how it relates to the brain on so many different levels!

There are roughly 6,500 languages used in our world. 

When you first hear “language”, what comes to mind? For a lot of the world, the first thing that comes to mind is what we’re using right now…English. English is the most commonly used language in the world. However, there are roughly 6,500 languages woven throughout our world. Pretty wild to think about, right?

We can use language to communicate in many different ways.

When it comes to language, we’re not just talking about verbal conversations. While this is absolutely a form of communication, there are many other forms as well. These include writing, drawing, messaging online, texting messaging, facial expressions, gestures with hands, touching, and eye contact. Some people can’t use any and all of these ways to communicate. Some people are disabled or incapable of certain things. Regardless, we all use various forms of language on the daily.

Words are powerful. 

The psychology behind words and language is a big world to dive into. Words are more than just letters in a specific order. Words are chosen intentionally. They can also change and vary depending on the environment that they are being used in. From a more personal stand point, specific language can make someone feel different emotions. Some words make us happy and feel good. Some words make us sad, mad, or anxious. This language doesn’t feel so good. Our brain listens to words and processes them. We listen to tone or read tone, access the mood, determine the meaning of the words, watch for facial expressions, so on and so forth. 

The language we speak may show how we see the world. 

Whether we speak the language we grew up learning or we have chosen a new one because of a move, our language is a part of our personality. While languages do not force us to think a certain way, they do play a role in the way we think and live. They can shape how we see the world. A language is not just another form of talking, it is also a way of thinking. Guy Deutscher, a researcher at the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures at the University of Manchester, may have said it best:

“If different languages influence our minds in different ways, this is not because of what our language allows us to think but rather because of what it habitually obliges us to think about.”

Language disorders affect many people across the world. 

Language disorders may make it difficult for people of all ages to comprehend, speak, or write certain forms of language. The disorder can affect any level of communication but ultimately creates a struggle for someone to form language or understand language. Many people struggle with these disorders. They can be caused by disabilities such as autism, brain injury, brain tumor, birth defects, etc. Language disorders can also be caused by problems during pregnancy or even family history. Psychologically speaking, these disorders are a constant part of someone’s every day life. 

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Language disorders can be detected in children very early on. 

While brain injuries can occur at any point in someone’s life, many language disorders are detected in childhood. While a child is learning and growing, they may have trouble communicating and understanding language. Since parents spend so much time with their children, they will likely pick up on these signs quickly and seek treatment and therapy. When a child is showing symptoms of a language disorder, they will likely struggle with these things:

  • Understanding what people are saying
  • Recognizing gestures and body language
  • Reading and writing
  • Growing a vocabulary
  • Understanding and following directions and instructions
  • Being connected to emotions
  • Knowing how to express feelings

Struggling with language can cause anxiety and depression. 

Any struggle in life can affect us in a negative way. Language disorders are no different. While there is therapy and treatment for language disorders, they will forever be a part of someone’s life. When someone struggles with communicating on any level, it can be scary. People with language disorders may feel isolated, disconnected and different. Whether someone was born this way or it developed later in life, it may be a mental strain. This can cause anxiety and depression for persons of any age. 

Language and mental health are a duo. 

Perhaps one of the biggest connections to language and psychology is how language can make us feel. Words have meaning and carry weight. The way people talk to us matters and vice versa. When someone is speaking to us, regardless of it’s in person, on the phone, or through writing, our brains conceptualize their words and decide how it makes us feel. Tone and body language also play a role in the meaning behind words and how they make us feel. 

For example, bullying can be physical but it is commonly paired with mean and degrading words. This type of language can affect our mental health very negatively. On the other side, words can be powerful in a positive way. Language can pull us out of dark places, help us understand things better, help us connect to others, etc. In short, language and mental health keep tabs on each other.

It’s possible that learning foreign languages can make you happier!

It is very easy to get caught up in the routines of every day life and not make space for new things. However, when we learn new things we can drastically improve our quality of life. Many studies have shown that learning a foreign language can make us feel on top of the world! While just learning something new in general makes us feel good, learning a new language opens up many opportunities for a deeper quality of life. Knowing a foreign language can:

  • increase your inner confidence
  • provide new job opportunities
  • help you make new friends that also speak that language
  • make you want to travel to new destinations

It’s also been proven that learning new languages can improve our memory.

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