Palme School: useful articles about teaching children the Russian language

Why Russians think differently

Writer Sergei Dovlatov said that a person's personality consists of 90% of the language which they speak. Philosophers, linguists and psychologists believe that language affects thinking. For example, if a language has a future tense, its speakers are less likely to save money. Economist Kate Chen explains that when a person speaks of the future tense in a different grammatical form, it seems distant, so there is less motivation to save money.

Consequently, if we learn another language, we make our brains more flexible and look at some things from a different perspective.

How does Russian define thinking?

Russian thinking is characterized by paradoxes, and this is expressed in language. Simply rearranging the words in the phrase "Ты мне очень нужен" ("I really need you! ") into "Очень ты мне нужен" ("I don’t care for you") shows how people say one thing and mean the exact opposite. People who speak in paradoxes are capable of finding non-trivial solutions.

Russian verbs do not have a stable expression of the past and present tenses. We can talk about the past tense using the present tense. For example, "Это было, когда я еще ходил в школу. Иду однажды по улице, несу рюкзак с учебниками..." ("It was when I was a schoolboy. I was walking down the street one day, carrying my backpack with my schoolbooks"). People who are used to speaking this way neglect time and focus on the length of the action, its power, in general, its quality.

Russian is multifaceted and has many synonyms. The task of the verb is to reveal the brevity, intensity, exhaustion of the action. For example, "нес воду" ("carried water"), "принес воду" ("brought water"), "донес воду" ("brought water"). By these verbs the context of the situation becomes clear and a decision can be made depending on it. So if people speak Russian, they are more attentive to different situations and pick up shades of mood and action. And this helps to conduct successful negotiations with partners.

In Russian, we can change the order of words in sentences. More often we use the phrase "Я купил продукты" (I bought groceries), but we can also say: "Продукты я купил," "Продукты купил я," "Я продукты купил". Depending on how the phrase is constructed, a person perceives himself differently.

To learn how to think in Russian, you can learn Russian online at Palme School.