The Future is Poor and Fat

“M. Keith Chen, an associate professor of economics at Yale University, says language affects how you form healthy habits – from diet and exercise to how much money you will save for retirement.”

Is your language making you fat?
The Russia and India Report, April 10, 2012

Apparently, languages that have a strong distinction between the present and the future inspire us to put off until tomorrow the diet we should have started today. Same thing with savings — when you see that rainy day as happening in “the future” you have less incentive to save. Because you really need that money now. To buy donuts. I mean, come on!

Languages like German, Japanese, Finnish, and Mandarin have more of an all-now-all-the-time approach. In English we say, “It will rain tomorrow,” but a German speaker would say, “Morgen regnet es.” Which translates to, “It rains tomorrow, and so I am eating this kale and I am hiding these Euros in Meine Matratze.”


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