In every language you will find traces of the people who use it and of when they used it. That is why Australian English differs from American English for example.
Bilinguals therefore don’t just know 2 or more languages, they also know as many cultures. Since each culture comes with its own world view, a typical bilingual has many, many world views.
That’s what makes them so special. Likeable, you’d say. From their different ways of saying je t’aime to their many ways of making peace, something about bilinguals just keeps pulling in those who get to know them.
Here is a portrait of these people.
1. They Have Great Intuition
Many researches indicate that bilingualism can greatly improve one’s cognitive abilities, among other brain functions. One of these cognitive abilities is intuition, as bilinguals often have to juggle between multiple meanings for the same words and gestures, depending on who they meet.
Just like a trained muscle will develop more mass, juggling between contexts leaves bilinguals with greater intuitive skills.
2. They Are Open Minded
While monolinguals tend to believe that there is one right way of doing things, research shows that people raised as bilinguals understand that most things in life are subjective. They are rarely ever phased by difference or afraid of the new because at one point in life, the new was them.
3. They Are Uniquely Creative
If you’ve ever tried translating a joke from one language to another without killing its essence, then you know what I mean. Operating in the bilingual universe requires some serious out-of-the-boxeness.
Look at it this way. Creativity is the measure how proficiently one can shuffle through old information, make working combinations and produce viable results. Bilinguals are forced to do lots of that. They pick a word from one language, dip it in another, slap onto it the right context reinforcer, test to see if the essence is intact and voila. A delicious phrase is born.
Because of the constant pull on their creative resources, bilinguals tend to develop great problem solving skills, which you can always put to use if you hang around them.
4. They Are Young At Heart
According to scientific research, bilinguals show signs of brain ageing and cognitive related diseases like Alzeimers and dementia far later in life than their monolingual counterparts. Let me explain.
Your white brain matter contains nerves, and those nerves are surrounded by myelin. When that myelin is in good health, the risk of losing information during transmission is reduced. In a typical bilingual, myelin is more developed than in a monolingual. Which is why bilinguals tend to stay sharper, hence younger at heart, longer than monolinguals.
5. They Are Powerful Connectors
Who would better introduce a german to a colombian than a spanish-speaking german? Bilinguals have the advantage of being brothers to everyone, which makes them effective social bridges. If you genuinely wish to understand a foreign colleague or acquaintance but don’t know how to approach them, start with a bilingual.
6. They Have A Rich Emotional IQ
Although love is a universal language, something about French love makes it different from Dutch love. To be able to express and receive love in many languages, requires you to be different people in one, to be triggered yet turned off by the same sentence depending on the accent in which it is said. The array of emotions a bilingual can understand, but most importantly express, is bounded by love itself. Which makes them unique leaders and lovers.
7. They Are A Reminder Of Home
When you feel disconnected in a foreign land, a simple conversation in your native tongue is sometimes all it takes to feel better. And because bilinguals offer expatriates the unique ability to describe their fears and joys in the language in which they are deepest, the two often form a unique bond. As a bilingual, I have seen the face of many people light up as I talk to them in the language they grew up with. To them I an not just whoever I am, I am a reminder of home.
If you are not a bilingual yet, you’re not a lost case. All the benefits listed above apply to early bilinguals as well as late bilinguals.
Only 300 words make up about 65% of all written English material and it is almost the same for other languages. You don’t need to know it all. Since there is no expiry date on your first step, today would be an awesome start. 1 word today, 2 tomorrow and through commitment you’ll get there.