Honest to f****** God

The language you use and the way you talk can reveal a lot about you. Aside from the obvious things like accent giving your nationality away and the tone of your voice revealing your mood, there are a lot of less obvious, more interesting correlations between the way you talk and who you are.

One of my favorites is the correlation between how much you swear and how honest you are. People who tend to swear more, usually tend to be more honest. This is cool not only because it proves that manners do not make you morally superior (bad manners, on the other hand, might), but also because it seems to indicate that deep-seeded character traits influence the way you conduct yourself in language. This is a nice thing to remember the next time you take the lord’s name in vain, by the way. You just might be a good person after all, albeit a foulmouthed one.

This got me thinking. It’s quite unsurprising, really, that the way you are as a person determines the way you talk, just like it influences how you behave in general. But how about the other way around. If who you are influences the way you talk, could it be possible that the way you talk might influence who you are as well, and if it were, what would this entail for the process of learning and speaking a new language? Would this make you a different person? I mean, obviously it would, in as far as there is a difference between being able to speak Danish and not being able to speak Danish, and learning Danish will change you in exactly this respect. But would it change you in any other way besides that, or would the only difference be the ability to speak Danish. Can learning a new language change the way you behave other than the way you talk? Could learning and using Danish curse words make you a more honest person, for instance?

Come to think of it. Is there anything to ‘being who one is’, other than the way we behave? Take away all the behavior, would there be anything left of the person after that? Or better yet. Change the behavior. Would one not necessarily change the person as well? Change the language you speak and the way you talk, what other things might change alongside that. If I were learning a new language, I would try to pay attention to this kind of stuff. How might the new language change the way I perceive the world, and the way I conduct myself in it. And would the possible change be for the better.

Besides being attentive to how new ways of speaking and expressing yourself might betray previously unknown or non-existent sides of you, I think it is important to remember that you can’t use generalized correlations between how people talk and what kind of person they are to infer anything about any particular individual. Just because he is swearing, doesn’t mean he is being honest with you. And just because he is talking ina southern accent, doesn’t mean he’s republican. But chances are, he is.

Stefan

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