The Change of the Personality, wenn speaking in a different Language

Essay, 2012

5 Pages


Does speaking a different language change your personality?

One could say that speaking a different language changes ones personality. However, many would also agree that speaking a different language has no affect on ones personality. A considerable amount of literature exists about the topic bilingualism. However so few exist about the idea of bilingualism changing ones personality. Depending on the type of bilingualism, it is considered to be a fact that people change personalities as they switch from one language to another (Collier, 83) . There are three types of bilingualism: Simultaneous bilingualism, receptive bilingualism and sequential bilingualism. Simultaneous bilingualism is when as an infant learns two languages at the same time and can speak them both as a mother tongue (Collier, 84) . Receptive bilingualism is a person being able to understand two languages but as that person can only speak one. This usually occurs when a person often hears two languages as a child but has time to practice only one of the languages(Collier, 85) . The term sequential bilingualism means that a person learns a second language but cannot speak it as well as their mother tongue. Receptive bilingualism usually excludes itself from the idea of changing personalities because it means that one can speak one language even though one can understand two(Collier, 85) . On the other hand receptive and simultaneous bilingualism can make a person change personalities as they change from one language to another (Collier, 85)

In Bilingual Minds written by Aneta Pavlenko, the author states that speaking another language definitely changes ones personality(Pavlenko, 12). Pavlenko touches upon the point that the result of change in personality affects the behavior as well (Pavlenko, 14). Pavlenko retreived her results from individual interviews with bilingual US citizens. The following results were found:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1. The results of the interviews about Bilingualism changing ones personality

The graph above gives the results of the interviews. These results show that 65% per cent of the people have approved that speaking a different language changes identity. This actually shows that many people believe in the fact that bilingualism changes personality (Pavlenko 11). One could say these results are very accurate because it is personal experience. More over rather than thinking about the answer, many people answered spontaneoeusly such as “OOOOH YEESS” (Pavlenko 11).

In One Individual, Two Identities: Frame Switching among Biculturals written by David Luna, Torsten Ringberg and Laura A. Peracchio, authors touch upon the term of “frame switching” as another language is spoken (Luna et al. 290). The idea behind this is that one person changes the time frame in their lives as they speak a second language(Luna et al. 293). This usually occurs when a person speaks the second language they learned(Luna et al. 296). The authors state a person usually speaks in the tone of the person they most admire in their second language(Luna et al. 285). The situation is that not all authors agree on the fact that speaking another language changes your personality. Some authors such as Diane Gérin-Lajoie agree that speaking another language has nothing to do with ones identity. In contrast, she believes that it actually depends on the person (Gérin-Lajoie 912). This means that some people might act different around other people but this could be because of any other reason. Morever there are some people that act exactly the same way no matter what language they speak (Gérin-Lajoie 912). In other words, Gérin-Lajoie agrees that bilingualism has nothing to do with switching identities.


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The Change of the Personality, wenn speaking in a different Language
Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH
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ISBN (eBook)
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438 KB
change, personality, language
Quote paper
Görkem Ercan (Author), 2012, The Change of the Personality, wenn speaking in a different Language, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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