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语言是如何塑造我们的想法的? – 译学馆
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语言是如何塑造我们的想法的?

How language shapes the way we think | Lera Boroditsky

我会用语言和各位交流……
So, I’ll be speaking to youusing language…
因为我有这个能力
because I can.
这是人类的神奇能力之一
This is one of these magical abilitiesthat we humans have.
我们能把很复杂的想法传达给另一个人
We can transmit really complicatedthoughts to one another.
而我现在做的
So what I’m doing right now is,
是用我的嘴巴发出声音
I’m making sounds with my mouth
吐气时发声
as I’m exhaling.
我会做出语调 嘶嘶声 呼气声
I’m making tones and hisses and puffs,
它们在空气中引起空气振动
and those are creatingair vibrations in the air.
那些空气振动会传到你那里
Those air vibrations are traveling to you,
触及你的耳膜
they’re hitting your eardrums,
接着你的大脑会取得从耳膜接收到的振动
and then your brain takes those vibrations from your eardrums
把它们转化为思想
and transforms them into thoughts.
我希望啦
I hope.
( 笑声 )
(Laughter)
我希望现在就在发生
I hope that’s happening.
正因为这种能力
So because of this ability,
我们人类才得以把我们的想法
we humans are able to transmit our ideas
跨越时间和空间 传给别人
across vast reaches of space and time.
我们能把知识传送到不同人的大脑
We’re able to transmitknowledge across minds.
我现在就能给各位的脑中放入一个怪异的想法
I can put a bizarre new idea in your mind right now.
“想象一只水母在图书馆里跳华尔兹
I could say, “Imagine a jellyfish waltzing in a library
同时想着量子力学”
while thinking about quantum mechanics.”
( 笑声 )
(Laughter)
如果你的人生中目前为止
Now,if everything has gone relatively well
一切相对算是顺利的
in your life so far,
你以前可能没有过那种想法
you probably haven’t hadthat thought before.
( 笑声 )
(Laughter)
但现在 我可以通过语言让你想到它
But now I’ve just made you think it, through language.
当然 世界上的语言不止一种
Now of course, there isn’t justone language in the world.
全世界 人类说的的语言就约有7000种
there are about 7,000 languagesspoken around the world.
每种语言在各个方面上都不同
And all the languages differ from one another in all kinds of ways.
有的语言有不同的声音
Some languages have different sounds,
有的是词汇差异 它们还有不同的结构
they have different vocabularies, and they also have different structures —
非常重要 不同的结构
very importantly, different structures.
于是 我们会问:
That begs the question:
我们所说的语言是否会塑造我们的思考?现在
Does the language we speak shape the way we think? Now,
这是一个老生常谈的问题
this is an ancient question.
长年来大家一直在思索这个问题
People have been speculatingabout this question forever. Charlemagne,
神圣罗马大帝查理曼说过
Holy Roman emperor, said,
“拥有第二语言就是拥有第二个灵魂”
“ To have a second language is to have a second soul” —
很有力的陈述 说明语言制造了现实
strong statementthat language crafts reality.
但另一方面 莎士比亚笔下的朱丽叶说
But on the other hand,Shakespeare has Juliet say,
“名字里面有什么用 ?
“What’s in a name?
玫瑰不叫玫瑰 依旧芳香如故”
A rose by any other namewould smell as sweet.” Well,
那意味着 语言不见得会制造现实
that suggests that maybelanguage doesn’t craft reality.
数千年来 这些论点一直你来我往
These arguments have goneback and forth for thousands of years.
但直到最近 也没有任何数据
But until recently,there hasn’t been any data
可以帮助我们确定是哪一种 最近
to help us decide either way. Recently,
在我的和世界上各地的其他实验室里
in my laband other labs around the world,
我们开始研究
we’ve started doing research,
现在 我们有实际的科学数据可以来探究这个问题
and now we have actual scientific data to weigh in on this question.
让我来分享一些我最喜欢的例子
So let me tell you aboutsome of my favorite examples.
我的第一个例子 来自一个澳洲的原住民部落
I’ll start with an examplefrom an Aboriginal community in Australia
我曾有机会和他们共事
that I had the chance to work with.
这些是库克萨尤里族
These are the Kuuk Thaayorre people.
他们住在约克角最西边的波姆浦洛
They live in Pormpuraaw at the very west edge of Cape York.
库克萨尤里族很酷的一点是
What’s cool about Kuuk Thaayorre is,
在库克萨尤里族中他们不使用 “左”和“右”这些词
in Kuuk Thaayorre, they don’t usewords like”left” and”right,”
一切都是用基本的方向:北
and instead, everythingis in cardinal directions: north,
南 东 西
south, east and west.
我说一切 真的就是指一切
And when I say everything,I really mean everything.
你可能会说这样的话 “噢
You would say something like, “Oh,
在你腿的西南方向有一只蚂蚁”
there’s an anton your southwest leg.”
或 “把你的杯子向东北偏北移动一点点”
Or,”Move your cupto the north-northeast a little bit.”
事实上在库克萨由里语中 说“哈罗” 的方式是
In fact, the way that you say”hello”in Kuuk Thaayorre is you say,
“你要去哪个方向?”
“Which way are you going?”
而回应应该是
And the answer should be,
“东北偏北的远方 你呢?”
“North-northeast in the far distance.How about you?”
所以 想象一下 当天你走到任何地方
So imagine as you’re walking around your day,
你问候每一个人时 都得要报告你朝什么方向前进
every person you greet, you have to report your heading direction.
( 大笑 )
(Laughter)
但那实际上会让你很快速确定自己的方位 对吧 ?
But that would actually get youoriented pretty fast, right?
因为如果不知道你在朝什么方向前进
Because you literallycouldn’t get past”hello,”
你就说不出“哈罗”
if you didn’t knowwhich way you were going.
事实上 说这种语言的人 方向感特别好
In fact, people who speak languages like this stay oriented really well.
他们的方向感比我们认为人类能办到的程度更好
They stay oriented betterthan we used to think humans could.
我们以前认为人类这方面比其他生物更糟
We used to think that humanswere worse than other creatures
是因为某种生物借口: “噢
because of some biological excuse: “Oh,
我们没有磁力的鸟喙和鳞片” 不
we don’t have magnetsin our beaks or in our scales.” No;
如果你的语言
if your language and
和你的文化训练你去做
your culture trains you to do it, actually,
你其实能办到
you can do it.
世界上有些人类的方向感非常好
There are humans around the worldwho stay oriented really well.
为了让大家能够了解
And just to get us in agreement
我们的做法上有多大的差异
about how different this isfrom the way we do it,
我想让大家闭上眼睛一下
I want you all to closeyour eyes for a second
并指向东南方
and point southeast.
( 笑声 )
(Laughter)
眼睛别张开 指出来
Keep your eyes closed. Point.
好 可以睁开眼睛了
OK, so you can open your eyes.
我看到大家指向那里 那里 那里 那里 ……
I see you guys pointing there,there, there, there, there…
我自己也不知道是哪一边
I don’t know which way it is myself —
( 笑声 )
(Laughter)
你们实在也没帮上忙
You have not been a lot of help.
( 笑声 )
(Laughter)
姑且就说在这个房间中正确率没有很高
So let’s just say the accuracy in this room was not very high.
不同语言中的认知能力差别很大 对吧?
This is a big difference in cognitiveability across languages, right?
一个族群 非常卓越的族群 比如各位
Where one group — verydistinguished group like you guys —
不知道哪边在哪个方向
doesn’t know which way is which, but in another group,
我去问五岁的小孩 他们也会知道
I could ask a five-year-old and they would know.
( 笑声 )
(Laughter)
大家对于时间的思考方式也有很大的差异
There are also really big differences in how people think about time.
这里是我祖父在不同年龄段的照片
So here I have picturesof my grandfather at different ages.
如果我请说英语的人以时间来整理
And if I ask an English speakerto organize time,
他们可能会这样排列 从左到右
they might lay it out this way, from left to right.
这与书写的方向有关
This has to do with writing direction.
如果你是说希伯来语或阿拉伯语
If you were a speaker of Hebrew or Arabic,
你可能会用反方向
you might do it goingin the opposite direction,
从右到左
from right to left.
但库克萨尤里族
But how would the Kuuk Thaayorre,
我刚刚和大家说的土著原族群会怎么做呢 ?
this Aboriginal group I just told you about, do it?
他们不使用像 左 和 右这些词
They don’t use wordslike”left” and”right.”
让我给你们一些暗示
Let me give you hint.
当我们让他们面向南方时
When we sat people facing south,
他们会把时间从左向右排
they organized time from left to right.
当我们让他们面向北方时
When we sat them facing north,
他们会把时间从右向左排
they organized time from right to left.
当我们让他们面向东面时
When we sat them facing east,
时间的方向朝向他们的身体
time came towards the body.
模式是什么 ?
What’s the pattern?
从东到西 对吗 ?
East to west, right?
所以对他们来说 时间完全不会
So for them, time doesn’t actually get locked
被身体限制住
on the body at all,
时间是和地景绑在一起的
it gets locked on the landscape.
对我来说 如果我面朝这边
So for me, if I’m facing this way,
时间是这样过 如果我面朝这边
then time goes this way, and if I’m facing
时间就朝这个方向
this way, then time goes this way.
面朝这边 时间就是朝这个方向
I’m facing this way, time goes this way —
非常自我中心 每当我转身
very egocentric of me to have the direction
也让时间的方向
of time chase me around
跟着我转
every time I turn my body.
对库克萨尤里族族 时间和地景是绑在一起的
For the Kuuk Thaayorre,time is locked on the landscape.
这是非常不同的时间思考方式
It’s a dramatically different wayof thinking about time.
还有个很聪明的人类独有的小技能
Here’s another really smart human trick.
如果我问各位这里有几只企鹅?
Suppose I ask youhow many penguins are there. Well,
我打赌我知道各位
I bet I know how you
是如何解答这个问题的
‘d solve that problem if you solved it.
你们开始数:“一、二、三、四、五、六、七、八”
You went,”One, two, three,four, five, six, seven, eight.”
你用数的
You counted them.
你给每一只一个号码
You named each one with a number,
你说出的最后一个数字 就是企鹅的数量
and the last number you said was the number of penguins.
这是一个小伎俩 你小时候就有人教你用了
This is a little trick that you’re taught to use as kids.
你学到了数字表 你学到了如何运用它
You learn the number list and you learn how to apply it.
小小的语言伎俩
A little linguistic trick. Well,
有些语言并不会这样做
some languages don’t do this,
因为某些语言并没有代表数字的字
because some languages don’t have exact number words.
这些语言并没有像“七”这样的字
They’re languages that don’t havea word like”seven”
也没有“八”
or a word like”eight.”
事实上 说这些语言的人也不会计数
In fact, people who speakthese languages don’t count,
他们无法记得具体数量
and they have troublekeeping track of exact quantities. So,
比如
for example,
如果如果我请各位把刚才企鹅的数目
if I ask you to match this number of penguins
对应到同样数目的鸭子
to the same number of ducks,
你可以靠计数的方式做到
you would be able to do that by counting.
但语言没有这项特征的人就做不到
But folks who don’t havethat linguistic trick can’t do that.
语言也有不同的方式来区别色谱
Languages also differ in how they divide up the color spectrum —
视觉世界
the visual world.
有些语言中有很多关于颜色的字
Some languages havelots of words for colors,
有些语言只有几个字“亮”和“暗”
some have only a couple words,”light” and”dark.”
不同的语言也有不同的颜色界限
And languages differ in where they putboundaries between colors. So,
例如 在英语中的蓝色
for example, in English,there’s a word for blue
包含屏幕上的
that covers all of the colors
所有这些颜色
that you can see on the screen,
但在俄语中 就没有单一个字
but in Russian, there isn’t a single word. Instead,
俄罗斯语的使用者
Russian speakershave to differentiate
必须去区分浅蓝色
between light blue,”goluboy,”
和深蓝色
and dark blue,”siniy.”
因此俄罗斯人的一生都会在语言上
So Russians have this lifetimeof experience of, in language,
把这两种颜色区别开来
distinguishing these two colors.
当我们测试 人们在分辨这两种颜色的能力时
When we test people’s abilityto perceptually discriminate these colors,
我们发现 在各语言中说俄语的人
what we find is thatRussian speakers are faster
会比较快做出区分
across this linguistic boundary.
他们能够更快区分
They’re faster to be ableto tell the difference
浅蓝色和深蓝色的差别
between a light and dark blue.
去观察正在看着颜色的
And when you look at people’s brains
人的大脑
as they’re looking at colors —
比如颜色从浅蓝色转化到深蓝色
say you have colors shifting slowly from light to dark blue —
用不同词汇来描述
the brains of people who use different words
浅蓝色和深蓝色的人
for light and dark blue
他们的大脑
will give a surprised reaction
在颜色从浅蓝色转换到深蓝色时 会有惊讶的反应
as the colors shift from light to dark,
就像 “噢 改变类别了”
as if,”Ooh, somethinghas categorically changed,”
而比如说英文的人 他们的大脑
whereas the brainsof English speakers, for example,
就不会做类别的区分
that don’t makethis categorical distinction,
就不会有惊讶 因为没有类别上的改变
don’t give that surprise, because nothing is categorically changing.
语言有各种结构上的变化
Languages have all kindsof structural quirks.
这是我的最爱之一
This is one of my favorites.
许多语言在文法上都有性别
Lots of languages have grammatical gender;
每个名词都有被指派一种性别 通常是男性或女性
every noun gets assigned a gender,often masculine or feminine.
在不同语言中 这些性别也不同
And these genders differ across languages. So,
比如
for example,
在德语中太阳是女性 而西语中则是男性
the sun is feminine in German but masculine in Spanish,
月亮刚好相反
and the moon, the reverse.
这对人们的思考方式有影响吗?
Could this actually have anyconsequence for how people think?
讲德语的人是否会用比较女性的方式来想太阳
Do German speakers think of the sunas somehow more female-like,
比较男性的方式来想月亮?
and the moon somehow more male-like? Actually,
结果发现的确是如此
it turns out that’s the case.
比如 如果你请说德语和西语的人
So if you ask German and Spanish speakers to, say,
描述一座桥
describe a bridge,
就像这里的桥
like the one here —
“桥”刚好在德语文法中要用女性
“bridge” happens to be grammaticallyfeminine in German,
在西语中则要用男性
grammatically masculine in Spanish —
说德语的人倾向于用“美丽”,“优雅”,来形容桥梁
German speakers are more likelyto say bridges are”beautiful,””elegant”
或其它刻板印象上是形容女性的词汇
and stereotypically feminine words.
而说西语的人比较有可能会说
Whereas Spanish speakerswill be more likely to say
桥很“坚固” 或“长”
they’re”strong” or”long,”
这些是男性用词
these masculine words.
(笑声)
(Laughter)
在描述事件时 不同语言也很不一样 对吧?
Languages also differ in howthey describe events, right?
比如像这样的事件 一个意外
You take an event like this, an accident.
在英文 可以说“他打碎了花瓶”
In English, it’s fine to say,”He broke the vase.”
而在西语中
In a language like Spanish,
更倾向于说“花瓶碎了”
you might be more likelyto say,”The vase broke,”
或者“花瓶自己碎了”
or,”The vase broke itself.”
如果它是个意外 就不会说是有人做的
If it’s an accident, you wouldn’t saythat someone did it.
在英文 挺奇怪的 我们甚至会说像这样的话
In English, quite weirdly,we can even say things like,
我弄断了我的手臂
“I broke my arm.” Now,
在许多语言中
in lots of languages,
你不会用那种句法结构 除非你疯了
you couldn’t use that construction unless you are a lunatic
然后你跑出去想办法把你的手臂弄断
and you went outlooking to break your arm —
(笑声)
(Laughter)
而且你成功了
and you succeeded.
如果是意外 你就会用不同的句法结构
If it was an accident,you would use a different construction. Now,
这是会造成不同结果的
this has consequences. So,
说不同语言的人
people who speak different
会把注意力放在不同的地方
languages will pay attention to different things,
就看他们说的语言需要他们怎么做
depending on what their languageusually requires them to do.
如果我们让说英文和西语的人
So we show the same accident
看到同样的意外
to English speakers and Spanish speakers,
说英语的人会记得是谁做的
English speakers will remember who did it,
因为英文要求你说 是他做的 他打碎了花瓶
because English requires youto say,”He did it; he broke the vase.”
而说西语的人比较不会
Whereas Spanish speakers might be less
记得是谁做的
likely to remember who did it
如果是一个意外
if it’s an accident,
但他们比较会记住这是一场意外
but they’re more likely to remember that it was an accident.
他们比较会记住意图
They’re more likelyto remember the intention. So,
所以 两个人看同样的事件
two people watch the same event,
目击同样的犯罪
witness the same crime,
最后却会记得该事件中不同的细节
but end up rememberingdifferent things about that event.
当然 在目击证人证词方面 这是值得深思的
This has implications, of course,for eyewitness testimony.
在责怪和惩罚时 也应该想想这一点
It also has implicationsfor blame and punishment.
如果是说英文的情况
So if you take English speakers and I
我刚让你看到有人打破了花瓶
just show you someone breaking a vase,
我说“他打破了花瓶” 而不是说“花瓶碎了”
and I say,”He broke the vase,”as opposed to”The vase broke,”
即使你自己可以亲眼看见 你可以看监视影片
even though you can witness it yourself, you can watch the video,
你可以看这件关于花瓶的罪行
you can watch the crime against the vase,
你会惩罚某个人多一点
you will punish someone more,
你会责备他多一些 若我说“他打破了花瓶”
you will blame someone moreif I just said,”He broke it,”
而不是“花瓶碎了”
as opposed to,”It broke.”
语言会引导我们对事件的推理
The language guidesour reasoning about events. Now,
我已经举了几个例子
I’ve given you a few examples
说明语言如何能深深塑造我们的思考方式
of how language can profoundlyshape the way we think,
语言对我们的影响涉及到方方面面
and it does so in a variety of ways.
所以 语言的影响可能很大 就像刚才
So language can have big effects, like we saw with
空间和时间的例子 大家在排列空间和时间时
space and time, where people can lay out space and
用完全不同的座标架构
time in completely different coordinate frames from each other.
语言的影响也可能很深
Language can also havereally deep effects —
可参考计数的例子
that’s what we sawwith the case of number.
在你的语言中有计数的字词
Having count words in your language,
有数字的字词 就能打开整个数学的世界
having number words, opens up the whole world of mathematics.
当然 如果你不会计数 代数自然也不会
Of course, if you don’t count,you can’t do algebra,
你就完全做不到像是
you can’t do any
建筑这样的房间这一类的事情
of the things that would be required to build a room like this
也无法做这场转播 对吧?
or make this broadcast, right?
数字字词的小小伎俩 能给你一个垫脚石
This little trick of number wordsgives you a stepping stone
进入认知的国度
into a whole cognitive realm.
语言的影响也可能很早
Language can also havereally early effects,
也就是颜色的例子
what we saw in the case of color.
这些是很简单 基础 感知的决策
These are really simple,basic, perceptual decisions.
我们随时都在做几千个这样的决策
We make thousands of them all the time,
而语言也有介入其中
and yet, language is getting in there
去扰乱我们这些非常小的感知决策
and fussing even with these tiny little perceptual decisions that we make.
语言的影响也可能很广
Language can have really broad effects.
文法性别的例子虽然有可能有点搞笑
So the case of grammatical gendermay be a little silly,
但同时 文法性别是用在所有名词上的
but at the same time,grammatical gender applies to all nouns.
这也意味着语言会塑造你的思考
That means language can shapehow you’re thinking
任何能用名词来命名的东西
about anything that can benamed by a noun.
这样的事物 比比皆是
That’s a lot of stuff.
我最后举的例子
And finally, I gave you an example
说明语言能塑造对我们
of how language can shape things
有个人意义的事物
that have personal weight to us —
像是责怪及惩罚这类想法 或是目击证词
ideas like blame and punishment or eyewitness memory.
这些都是日常生活中的重要事物
These are important thingsin our daily lives. Now,
语言多样性之美在于
the beauty of linguistic diversity is
它能向我们揭示
that it reveals to us
人类的心智是多么的巧妙和有弹性
just how ingenious and how flexiblethe human mind is.
人类心智发明了不只一个认知宇宙 而是七千个
Human minds have inventednot one cognitive universe, but 7,000 —
全世界的语言有7000种
there are 7,000 languagesspoken around the world.
我们还能创造更多语言
And we can create many more — languages,
当然 语言是活的
of course, are living things,
我们可以去打磨它 改变它来符合我们的需求
things that we can honeand change to suit our needs.
可惜之处在于
The tragic thing is
我们在不断失去
that we’re losing so much of this linguistic diversity
语言的多样性
all the time.
我们大约一周就会失去一种语言 依据一些估计
We’re losing about one language a week, and by some estimates,
在接下来的一百年 世界上的语言有一半会不见
half of the world’s languages will be gone in the next hundred years.
更糟糕的消息是 现在
And the even worse news is that right now,
几乎所有我们对于人类心智和大脑的知识
almost everything we know aboutthe human mind and human brain
都是来自于针对说英文的美国大学生
is based on studies of usually AmericanEnglish-speaking undergraduates
所做的研究
at universities.
那就几乎排除了所有人类 对吧?
That excludes almost all humans. Right?
所以我们对于
So what we know
人类心智的了解 其实是非常狭隘且有偏见的
about the human mind is actually incredibly narrow and biased,
我们的科学得要做得更好才行
and our science has to do better.
最后 我想留下最后一点让各位思考
I want to leave youwith this final thought.
我已经告诉各位 说不同语言的人如何有不同的思考方式
I’ve told you about how speakersof different languages think differently,
但重点并不是其他地方的人怎么想
but of course, that’s not abouthow people elsewhere think.
重点是你怎么想
It’s about how you think.
重点是你说的语言如何塑造出你的思考
It’s how the language that you speak shapes the way that you think.
那就给了你一个机会 可以问
And that gives you the opportunity to ask,
我为何会用我这种方式思考?
“Why do I think the way that I do?”
我要如何用不同的方式思考?
“How could I think differently?”
还有
And also,
我想要创造出怎样的想法?
“What thoughts do I wish to create?”
非常感谢
Thank you very much.
(掌声)
(Applause)

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视频概述

想突破语言带来的思维的局限性吗?相信观看完这视频会让你找到答案。

听录译者

收集自网络

翻译译者

Elena

审核员

审核员@EI

视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKK7wGAYP6k

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