Last month I hosted a couple of friends from China for two weeks. It was great having them here, but since they don’t speak English I and a mutual Chinese friend traded translation shifts. Wherever we went and whatever we did, one of us had to be ‘on duty.’
Needless to say it was exhausting. By the time they left my brain physically hurt and it took me about 3 days to put the Chinese side to rest for awhile.
The day they left I stumbled across this article in USA Today highlighting a study that shows how speaking more than on language may delay the onset of dementia:
The latest evidence that speaking more than one language is a very good thing for our brains comes from a study finding dementia develops years later in bilingual people than in people who speak just one language.
The study, conducted in India and published Wednesday in the journal Neurology, is not the first to reach this conclusion. But it is the largest and comes with an intriguing new detail: The finding held up even in illiterate people — meaning that the possible effect is not explained by formal education.
Instead, the researchers say, there’s something special about switching from one language to another in the course of routine communication — something that helps explain why bilingual people in the study developed dementia five years later than other people did. When illiterate people were compared with other illiterate people, those who could speak more than one language developed dementia six years later.
Suddenly I saw all that mental exertion in a new light.
So if you’re looking for a way to stave off dementia…..LEARN CHINESE!!
Image source: Penn Language Center