Does Language Learning Make Us More Brainy?

In the Indian past, there has always been a presence of ‘Multilingualism’ as also a prodigious emphasis on the correct usage of grammar and language.

For instance, three out of the six branches of the ‘Vedangas’ or ‘Limbs of the Vedas’, the ancillary branches of Vedic learning and recitation, were dedicated to language alone; namely- Shiksha (phonetics and pronunciation of letters and sounds), Vyakaran (grammatical structures and usage) and Nirukta (explanation of the origin of words, etymology).

I sincerely feel that this owes to the genius of the Vedic scholars who realized the pre-eminence of the inception of language skills and usage in the development process of their students, which in turn led to a manifold increase in their cognitive abilities and processes of contemplation.

It is evident from several types of research on the development of the brain that early instruction in language usage results in the formation of memory circuits which aids in learning new information. Languages have always been a subject of great ardour and jubilation all over human history. During the Renaissance or ‘Rebirth’ (15th-16th century CE) in Europe, a person’s intellect or ‘level of sophistication’ was judged on the basis of several standards, a number of languages a person knew were considered one at the apex.

It is noteworthy that the same emphasis on language learning is perceptible even today- a person with several lingoes has more chances of getting a variety of jobs, professional opportunities and wider scope.

Various psychological studies have reasonably concluded that ‘Multilingualism’ affects the structure and essentially the cellular architecture of the brain. I concluded from reading the reports that multilingual individuals have a greater density of Grey matter in their brains.

Learning multiple languages re-structures the brain and some have conceivably inferred that it boosts the ‘plasticity’ of the brain.

Thus people speaking varied tongues have much more grasp of problem-solving skills, self-confidence and vigour in understanding complex situations; since in the course of learning different grammars and forms of letters, the brain gets accustomed to facing varied situations and the possible ways to solve them. Such skills and inner qualities are inevitable for any successful aspirant.

‘Multilingualism’ can also have several sociological advantages. A grasp of several lingoes dilates the audience and those who can understand one persuasively. One’s world widens substantially and leads to an eclectic view of life. Barriers of nationality, culture, religion and ideologies cease to exist and one has a better idea of self-existence and his/her position in entirety.

A ‘know-how’ of languages also opens up the ‘floodgates’ of literature and other texts, containing concepts and ideas that had have propelled us further and others still waiting to be discovered. For example, a person having knowledge of Sanskrit as well as Greek and Latin can experience the ascendancy of ‘multilingualism’ since he can thoroughly understand the treasure-trove of the richness of Sanskrit literature- philosophical, religious, poetry, drama, arts, etc.

more than in any other language, and at the same time be fluent in the most nexus of Western logic, philosophy, reasoning, rhetoric, politics and mathematics. Therefore, it may be amply concluded that instruction and usage of multiple tongues deepen the knowledge and distends the perspective of an individual.

— Arsh Ali/Prayagraj

(The Author Is India’s Youngest Archaeologist And First Egyptologist, Sanskritist)


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