STEPHEN FRY: So how does being bilingual affect your view of the world? Surely things get very confusing indeed. Almost to step outside of language, you are bilingual, so you can perhaps at least swap languages sometimes, cos you must ask yourself, “Am I thinking this because I'm thinking in English or am I thinking this because I'm thinking in Russian, or can I rationally think this in a pure, almost machine-like way that is outside language?”
LERA BORODITSKY: Well, I, of course, think about everything very rationally.
SF: You have the best of the Russian side and the best of the English, presumably.
LB: Actually, it's very difficult for me to design experiments comparing English and Russian, because... Because I speak both, it seems to me perfectly natural to have both those ideas in mind. And then when we do the experiment and we find that actually English speakers see it one way and Russian speakers see it another way, I'm just shocked.
SF: Oh, that's interesting! But as someone who speaks both, what is there that is characteristically Russian in the way you feel and experience when you're thinking in a Russian way?
LB: Russian speakers express much more collectivist ideas when they're speaking Russian, they espouse more collectivist values. And they espouse more individualistic values when they're speaking English. So they're kind of... Even though they're giving an explanation for the same kind of phenomena, when they're doing it in one language, they have a very different perspective on it than when they're doing it in another language. So, it kind of... Language serves as a cue to the cultural values that...
SF: So it's not a miserable, oppressed, dark Russian soul sort of way of looking at the world, then?
LB: Well, yeah, that's a very English way of looking at the Russian soul!