Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Being bilingual makes you faster... and younger

That’s the conclusion researchers (though I’d call them “researchers”, which I’ll explain later) from the York University in Canada apparently (I haven’t read the original study report, only press reports) arrived at in their study of 104 people in ages from 30 to 88.
Among the people of the study, those who were bilingual were apparently mentally sharper, had faster reaction time and lost less of their mental acuity with age than people who spoke only one language.
It might have been a reason to congratulate bilingual people and hit those language books for the monolingual, if not the remarkable composition of the population that was studied.
Half of the study group were namely English speaking Canadians and the other half…. no, not the French and English speaking Canadians ( or English and any other language speaking Canadians, otherwise similar to the monolingual group) as you might - logically - try to conclude (bilingual and mentally sharp as you are!), the other half….. were people from India, speaking both English and Tamil!
Reading of such a composition of the “research” population, made me almost choke on my morning coffee. This is against the most elementary rules of studies: compare comparables, not incomparables, or - as the saying goes - you put garbage in, you get garbage out!
I am so disappointed…. and can’t squash the suspicion that a - sufficiently influential ?- member of the research team ?- or sponsor of the “research” in question?, wanted a free trip to India? or to show off people from India as smarter than Canadians? The plot thickens…

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