Bilingual speakers experience time differently

Gap-fill: dopolni prazna mesta z manjkajočimi besedami (eno mesto-ena beseda) / Gap-fill: fill in each gap with one suitable word.


Rezultat iskanja slik za bilingualFor those who can only speak one language, people who have the ability to speak multiple are often a source of fascination. What language do they think in? Can they switch mid-way through? Do they only dream in one language or both?

It turns out, these questions are not without merit as people who can speak two languages actually experience time in a different way.

A study from Lancaster University and Stockholm University, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, found that people who are bilingual think about time differently depending __________ (1) the language context in which they are estimating the duration of events.

Linguists Professor Panos Athanasopoulos and Professor Emanuel Bylund explained that bilinguals often go back and forth between their languages __________ (2) consciously and unconsciously.

Additionally, different languages often refer to time differently. For example, Swedish and English speakers refer to physical distances: ‘Taking a short break’ while Spanish speakers refer to physical quantities and volume: ‘Taking a small break’.

The researchers asked native Swedish speakers who __________ (3) spoke Spanish to estimate how much time had passed while watching either a line growing across a screen or a container __________ (4) filled. Participants were prompted to use the work ‘duracion’ (the Spanish word for duration) or ‘tid’ (the Swedish equivalent).

When prompted __________ (5) Spanish words, bilinguals based their estimates on volume relating to a container being filled. When prompted by Swedish words they switched their behaviour and suddenly gave time estimates in distance, referring to the lines travelled, rather __________ (6) volume.

What being bilingual does to your brain

Professor Athanasopoulos said the results showed our language creeps into our everyday emotions and perceptions __________ (7) than we realise.

“The __________ (8) that bilinguals go between these different ways of estimating time effortlessly and unconsciously __________ (9) in with a growing body of evidence demonstrating the ease with which language can creep into our most basic senses, including our emotions, visual perception, and now it turns out, sense of time,” he said.

Professor Athanasopoulos also suggested the results show that bilinguals are more “flexible thinkers” than __________ (10) who just speak one language.

“There is evidence to suggest that mentally going back and forth between different languages on a daily basis confers advantages on the ability to learn and multi-task, and even long-term benefits for mental well-being,” he said.

(Adopted from on 5 May 2017)

Rešitve naloge / Answer Key