I read an article months ago, loved it, bookmarked it, and can’t for the life of me find it now, so if anyone knows what article I’m trying to reference, leave a link in the comments so I can put it in the original post, please!
The article was about how language changes our interpretation of a situation. I thought about it again because Ermisenda and I were writing a scene last night, and it didn’t quite feel right. It came down to the difference between “she’s my girlfriend” and “I’m the boyfriend.” While they technically say the same thing, the first sounds possessive where the second sounds like a position of honor. It reminded me of the article, which is when I went looking for it and couldn’t find it.
What stuck out to me most was the concept of blame. Apparently English naturally blames people more than other languages. To demonstrate, two groups of people watched the same video. Since I can’t remember what the video was, let’s say it was a person with an egg.
Group One saw the text: Bob dropped an egg.
Group Two saw the text: The egg fell.
The first is how English speakers format the sentence and the second is (I want to say the Japanese equivalent, but don’t quote me). Remember, this was exactly the same movie, but when asked if what happened was an accident, group one had a much higher percent say no, that Bob was at fault than group two did.
On a similar note, one of our fans on Facebook recently commented about the importance of punctuation.
[T]his reminds me of that one thing an english prof somewhere gave their students this: “A woman without her man is useless” or something like that, and told them to correctly punctuate it. All the guys in the class wrote: “A woman without her man is useless.” or something like that. all the girls wrote: “A woman: with her, man is useless.” punctuation is powerful.
I found it fascinating and wish I could share the article with you, but since I can’t, what are your thoughts? I’m especially interested in hearing from people who speak more than one language. Does punctuation change meaning as dramatically in other languages as it does in English?