I Am What I Say: How One Book Changed the Way I See the World

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1050 Words
Date:  2022-03-25


It all started with curiosity. Of all things human, curiosity is the most unyielding, persistent and determined ally of motivation. If we take a look at children, we will see that curiosity takes them places adults would never dream of going. Curiosity ignites the spark inside researchers and forces them to them spend sleepless hours over an equation, a microscope or an ancient artifact. Curiosity made me put aside my homework and read an article written by an Israeli scholar Guy Deutscher I accidentally came across. Curiosity told me to get his book and read it from cover to cover. I never regretted it. When I was racking my brain over the mysterious disappearance of the blue color from the ancient world and when I was trying to work out if I was turning the pages with my Eastern or Western hand, I realized that language is about curiosity. Several hours later I realized one more thing, probably, an even more fundamental one - language is also about creativity and creation. When we speak we create the reality we will live in. I believe, this realization is one of the most important discoveries in my life.

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I do not often read The New York Times Magazine. It is not that the subscription is quite expensive. I either do not completely dislike the edition's refined intellectual snobbery. The reason is just that today, in the digital age, we live in a Facebook information bubble, spending most of our free time wandering aimlessly through irrelevant posts, obscure blogs, primitive infographics, and other mass culture potpourri. I came across Guy Deutscher's article "Does Your Language Shape How You Think?" by chance. My attention was caught by the intriguing title. I also spent some time looking at the four pictures showing human lips in the act of speaking. I thought that the pictures looked too naturalistic and idly wondered if the article had anything to do with the influence of articulation upon the work of the brain. I did not mean to read the paper. But, you know, procrastination operates in cunning ways. I thought, "Why not? This sounds interesting," and decided I could at least scan the contents. The article turned out to be quite academic with many references to renowned scholars like Roman Jakobson and Noam Chomsky, yet it was written in a very light and engaging manner. It was obvious the author was enjoying his research. This amazed me - most of us secretly believe research to be boring and tiresome. All in all, I ended up reading every single word of the paper. The thing that happened next surprised even me. I read Guy Deutscher's book Through the Language Glass. The world never looked the same to me again.

Through the Language Glass is a witty and brilliantly written book which in a relaxed and easy-to-read, yet thoughtful and meticulous manner explores the way in which a language influences individuals' worldview without ultimately limiting their perception. Deutscher looks at the way in which languages make their speakers perceive colors, gender, and space in a completely different way. The author made me ponder over such essential questions as: "Does language reflect the culture of a society in any profound sense...?" and "... can different languages lead their speakers to different thoughts and perceptions?" (Deutscher 6). Deutscher answered both of them in the affirmative. The two major parts of his book, "The Language Mirror," and "The Language Lens," are devoted to showing how we can look into the mirror of language and see ourselves, but also how language shapes the reflection we see. When I was reading the book, I was thinking about the way our personality shapes the way we speak. By just listening to a person speaking, paying attention to the structure of his or her utterances and word choice, we can draw conclusions about the speaker's intellectual level, character, social background, mood and attitude towards the audience. But this is not a one-way street. Our manner of speaking defines the way we think and see the world, and, in due turn, the way we are seen by others. I realized that if I keep complaining about my life, it will not get any better, because the words that I utter define what I expect to see around. Moreover, if I do not learn new words, I will stay in my familiar, comfortable information bubble. I need to read something new every day. It will help me update my frame of reference. New words are like new tools that will make my thinking more effective and productive. Now I see that my speaking and writing skills are both my business card that people around will use to understand who I am and a wonderful mechanism of improving myself and expanding my intellectual capacities.

There is one more important thing I understood when reading Deutscher. No matter how different we may seem when seen through the lens of our oral and written speech, we are all human beings, which means all of us have an incredible cognitive and creative potential. In his book, Deutscher argues that we must escape from the delusion "that language is a prison-house for thought that it constrains its speakers' ability to reason logically and prevents them from understanding ideas that are used by speakers of other languages" (Deutscher 149). I used to judge people by the way they speak. The manner of speaking and writing is very important, indeed. Yet, it is not the definitive verdict. We all have the same potential to grow, which deserves being respected.


When I came across Deutscher's article, I never knew it would change my worldview in such a profound way. My journey started with curiosity and it took me places I did not expect to visit. I realized that language is a part of who we are, a cognitive tool and a cultural mirror. It is the house we live in and it is our task to work on it on a daily basis.

Works Cited

Deutscher, Guy. "Does Your Language Shape What You Think." The New York Times Magazine, 26 Aug. 2010, www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/magazine/29language-t.html?_r=1.

Deutscher, Guy. Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages. New York: Metropolitan Books Henry Holt and Company, 2010.

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I Am What I Say: How One Book Changed the Way I See the World. (2022, Mar 25). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/i-am-what-i-say-how-one-book-changed-the-way-i-see-the-world

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