Salient to Investors:

Keith Chen at Yale says:

  • The grammar of the language we speak affects both our finances and our health. If you speak English you are likely to save less for your old age, smoke more and get less exercise than if you speak a language like Mandarin, Yoruba or Malay.
  • Strong future-time reference languages use a different tense when speaking of the future. Weak future-time reference languages do not. For example, the English say  ‘it will rain tomorrow’ while Germans say ‘it rains tomorrow”.
  • Speakers of languages which only use the present tense when dealing with the future are likely to save more money than those who speak languages which require the use a future tense. Because saving is fundamentally about understanding that your future self is in some sense equivalent to your present self.
  • Speakers of languages with no real future tense are likely to have saved 39% more by the time they retire, 24% less likely to smoke, 29% more likely to be physically active, and 13% less likely to be obese

Morten Lau at Durham University disagrees, saying the factors which affect how much people save have little to do with language – it is interest rates that determine savings behavior.

John McWhorter at Columbia University says the extent to which the language shapes the thought is tinyFree email alerts of articles as soon as they are posted.

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