Speaking More Than One Language can Delay Onset of Dementia
Speaking two or more languages can delay the onset of dementia by up to five years. These are the findings of a study conducted by Edinburgh University and Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, India. They examined 650 dementia patients. The patients who were bilingual or multilingual had a much later onset of dementia than the ones who only spoke one language.
And it doesn’t matter if a person is illiterate. People who can’t read or write still get the mental health benefits of speaking two or more languages. Education level, occupation, gender and whether a person lives in an urban or rural environment — none of these factors matter. Any way you look at it — to paraphrase Mel Brooks — it’s good to speak two languages.
According to the linked article:
“The researchers suggested bilingual switching between different sounds, words, concepts, grammatical structures and social norms constituted a form of natural brain training, which was likely to be more effective than any artificial brain training program.”
A professor from Edinburgh University said:
“These findings suggest that bilingualism might have a stronger influence on dementia than any currently available drugs. This makes the study of the relationship between bilingualism and cognition one of our highest priorities.”
I wonder if dementia even exists in Holland — especially Amsterdam — where it seems every man, woman and child is fluent in half a dozen languages. I remember standing in line at an information booth in Amsterdam; everybody in front of me was a different nationality. The woman behind the counter was totally unfazed, rattling off one detailed answer after another in Spanish, German, Tagalog, Chinese, you name it.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have our own flagwaving Klanbaggers clamoring to Make English Americas Offical Language.
Labels: two languages dementia