What we say and how we say it

I have come to understand that language shapes the way people think and feel, and vice versa. I often felt that I could not describe in English what I was feeling. I could not find in English exact expressions matching my bodily sensations.Kyung-Joo Yoon, Canberra, 2007

A busy street. An unfamiliar country. You’re lost. All you can hear is a language you can’t understand. Suddenly you hear words or an accent you recognise. Immediately you feel more at home.

Often we take our own language and accent for granted. Yet our words connect us to so many parts of identity — our family, literature, humour, even our dreams. What language do you dream in?

Language and accents also separate us. Some people hear a conversation in a public place that’s not in English, and feel threatened.

Are they talking about me? Why don’t they speak English?

If we lose our language we lose a part of ourselves.

Meet Carlos and hear his story.

Watch this video with a transcript