How Bilingual Brains Perceive Time Differently

A new study has found that what language you speak might alter your perception of time.

In researching bilingual brains, that is, how brains work when someone speaks more than one language fluently, scientists have found there are differences.

Bilingual brains activate in different ways depending on the language they're speaking, and and also demonstrate incredible cognitively flexibility, switching back and forth between languages in a phenomenon called code-switching. And a new study has found an interesting link between language and time: the language you think in can impact the way you perceive time.

Every language has its specific vocabulary for organizing the world around us, but when it comes to time, there are two general categories this is done: distance, as in crossing an area, and volume as in a space being filled.  

Swedish and English both use physical distances to express a measure of time. In English we'd say "a short break" or "a long wedding." We use these descriptive terms as though the passage of time is a measurable distance.


Special thanks to Squarespace for supporting Seeker. Start your free trial today at, and use coupon code "seeker" to get 10% off your first purchase!