This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Language Demographic

The Wall Street Journal carries a story by Dr. Lera Borodistsky, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford, discussing the potential role that language plays in the way we think and perceive the world. This has obvious implications for the connection between culture and demography, and flies in the face of the well-entrenched theories of Noam Chomsky that language is universalistic and is not tied to specific cultures. Professor Borodistsky's view of the world seems to be shared by Indonesians who, according to the New York Times, are very worried about the fate of their language as Indonesian elites focus on teaching their children English from an early age. This is a tricky area in which to work, of course, because we need to always be wary of falling into the trap of thinking that language determines behavior. More likely, it helps to shape behavior in subtle ways.

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