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How language shapes the way we think and interact with the world

Teah Mogae

I am one of those people who is always reading and when online, I do get carried away with opening new tabs. I must admit, I will often have more than 100 tabs open at a time... oops. I do then make time to read through each tab and most of the time, find beautiful gems like the TED talk by Lera Boroditsky, a cognitive scientist, about "How language shapes the way we think."On finding out there are about 7000 languages on earth, my next thought was - how many of those languages are found in print? How many of these languages become extinct every decade because speaking that language "is not as cool as speaking a foreign colonial or adopted language?'

Having attended private school "aka English medium" in all my primary and high school education in Botswana, you wouldn't have to look far to find people who were not keen to speak the local language despite living amongst people who spoke the language. To then have age mates who elected to only communicate with their children in English whilst living in Botswana was a very interesting phenomenon for me. To top that off, you could find a Kagiso married to a Kelebogile but having kids called Andrew, Katherine etc to help the kids "adjust in an English world". The understanding of the above decisions was that being a monolingual, English only speaker, somehow made you more intelligent. English is a great language and one that can allow communication between multitudes of people globally, but we shouldn't let the knowledge of English, be detrimental to Setswana as a whole.

Sadly, on reflection and more so after watching the Ted talk, all that is apparent to me is that we are probably gradually making our language extinct and hence the real ambition behind Losika Writes. To try, in my little corner of the world, to take our beautiful Setswana off the endangered list. Support the movement and buy your little one some books at www.losikawrites.com.

Enjoy the TED talk and looking forward to your opinions about the topic discussed.


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