Language & Attention

Written to the song: Si Veo a Tu Mamá — Bad Bunny

A different language is a different vision of life.” — Federico Fellini

Language impacts our personalities, decision-making processes and even our attention while reading. While reading, our eye movements dictate our attention and allow us to focus and make connections to the associated text.

Research reveals that while reading, we make connections not only between the word and its meaning but also between visually similar words, such as “lamp” and “lamb”).

However, research reveals that bilinguals will make connections cross-linguistically. For example, for Spanish speakers viewing the English word “clock”, they also made a visual connection between the English word “gift” — as in Spanish clock “reloj” and gift/present “regalo” are visually similar. When monolingual English speakers looked at the word “clock” they made the association with the word “cloud”, which is understandable. However, this finding reveals that when becoming bilingual, language truly does become second nature, where associations are created subconsciously. This knowledge of language affects not only ways of thinking but also our visual perception of the words and the world around us.


Chabal, S., & Marian, V. (2015). Speakers of different languages process the visual world differently. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144(3), 539–550.

Author of “Q & A a Day for Travelers”.

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