top of page

Language and it's Connection to Health

Updated: Dec 26, 2019

Can the Language a person speaks, make them more susceptible to a particular disorder?


There are a couple of ways to approach this question:

1.  Medical Systems:  It would seem likely that medical diagnosis's are standard across the board from one country to the next.  For example, a heart attack and its symptoms would be diagnosed the same in France as in South Africa.  However, when looking at diseases related to mental or emotional health, the language of the patient compared to the language of the doctor, is a very significant component.

Language shows what an individual values, which is shown in how words or concepts are constructed in their native language. For example, Chinese Mandarin characters incorporate a collection of complex symbolism, which show how these speakers view the meaning behind their words. As a result, native, bilingual or foreigns language speakers, in a host country, may have different perspectives on the same things. Language is culture.

Varying perspectives on the world, tend to lead to different actions in the world. In other words, how one thinks, affects how they act. So if a doctor were to use a rubric for diagnosing a patient, in particular a child, that used a system of thinking that went from a-b, when the chid's way of interpreting the world was one of z-a, the doctor could misdiagnose the child.  It may be beneficial to look at this closely for diagnosis's of ADHD, dyslexia, psychological problems or other ‘learning disabilities’, which do not have clear cut measurable markers for diagnosis.  Medical systems can have biases against non native speakers due to their adherence to specific criteria for evaluations, in which one's culture could affect interpretation of results.


2.  Biological Systems - Theory:  Repetitive neuron-patterns created in the brain, can make an individual more susceptible to certain disorders or more ‘immune’ or less likely to express genetic activation of certain disorders.  Different parts of the brain may be activated differently in people across countries due to the language they speak. For example, if a culture’s language is inherently one which incorporates gratitude, the individuals who speak this language are filled with gratitude every time they talk.  Another example is how several languages incorporate a different preposition or pronoun for elders or individuals of high honor. It is simple interesting to contemplate how languages that do not have an ‘elder’ conjugation, may treat the elders in their community versus those cultures which do have a specific conjugation. In this contemplation, one can think about how these mental patterns created by the language structures, affect the physical health of one as they age.

It is known that positive thoughts equal greater health. How language structure relates to ‘positivity’, however, is neither absolute or finale. Although neurological changes can be measured, what this means, may still be interpretive. Moreover, as culture continues to change from generations, language also inevitably evolves. Continuing to think about how culture impacts health, can lead to more conscious culture creation.

bottom of page