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  • Published: 4 April 2023
  • ISBN: 9780241626030
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 336

The Power of Language

Multilingualism, Self and Society




An acclaimed psycholinguist reveals how language shapes our brain - and moulds the way we look at the world

Why should we learn more than one language?
Can it change the way we think?
Does it have the power to transform how we see the world?

You may think you speak only one language. In fact, your mind is interpreting multiple codes of communication. Some people speak Spanish, some Mandarin. Some speak poetry, some are fluent in maths. Humans are built for multilingualism.

Drawing on cutting-edge research and theory, delivered with wit and lucid insight, psycholinguist Viorica Marian explores the ways in which the mind uses multiple languages and how, in doing so, we can open the doors to unique forms of creativity, brain health and cognitive control. Every new language we speak - whether it is coding or musical notes, Hindi or Arabic - shapes how we extract and interpret information. It alters what we remember, how we perceive ourselves and those around us, how we feel, the insights we have, the decisions we make and the actions we take.

The Power of Language lays bare how we use different linguistic codes to think about the world - and change our place within it. Empowering and practical, this is the perfect guide for anyone interested in how language really works.

  • Published: 4 April 2023
  • ISBN: 9780241626030
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 336

About the author

Viorica Marian

Viorica Marian is the Ralph and Jean Sundin Endowed Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University. She speaks, has studied, or has conducted research in a dozen languages, including English, Romanian, Russian (her primary languages), as well as American Sign Language, Cantonese, Dutch, French, German, Mandarin, Spanish, Thai and Ukrainian. Her work has been featured on NPR, PBS, NBC and the BBC.

Praise for The Power of Language

Sparkles with insight. After reading this book, you will see and hear words differently-and feel a deeper appreciation for the sheer majesty of the human mind. (Bonus: It will also make you want to learn Swedish, Spanish, or Swahili!) Viorica Marian takes her place alongside Steven Pinker and George Lakoff as the author of an essential work about the science of language.

Daniel H. Pink, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Drive, When, and The Power of Regret

A uniquely original, fresh, and powerful perspective that promises to shape the scientific study of language and mind well into the future. The focus is not so much on how the mind does language as on what language does for the mind and its user, and crucially, on what the consequences are, for individuals and entire societies, of having more than one language in that mind.

Gerry Altmann, former editor of Cognition: The International Journal of Cognitive Science, and award-winning author of The Ascent of Babel

A highly engaging and personal journey into the superpower you didn't know you had!

Morten H. Christiansen, professor of psychology, Cornell University, author of The Language Game

Whether or not you have reflected on language, whether or not you speak or think in several languages, you will learn a lot from this well-researched and well written book.

Howard Gardner, professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education, author of Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Beautifully shows all the ways that learning a second language can do so much more than simply add another way of talking; it can fortify your brain to make you sharper, wiser, more creative, and more open-minded.

Michael J. Spivey, professor of cognitive science, University of California, author of Who You Are and The Continuity of Mind

Viorica Marian marshals her extensive research experience, broad knowledge of science, and a personal and engaging style in telling the story of the one arguably most human cognitive faculty: language. Read it, and you'll be better for it!

Shimon Edelman, professor of psychology, Cornell University

An absorbing account of how language wires the brain. Some of the most intriguing conclusions are related to bilingualism and multilingualism, which have been shown to delay Alzheimer's, increase the brain's gray matter, and positively impact social cognition in children. Full of delightful insights, this book is thoroughly researched and compulsively readable.

Kirkus