American journalist Amanda McMillan in his column argues why alcohol helps us in communicating in foreign languages. About it writes “New Time”.
Those who are trying to learn new languages, sometimes notice, like alcohol — in moderation — helps them to speak more freely. And to a certain extent this is true: it is proven that a beer or glass of wine can reduce the level of impact of constraints, that is, to help some people overcome anxiety and procrastination.
But on the other hand, alcohol impairs cognitive and motor function, affects memory and attention, and leads to over-confidence and high self-esteem. Why do drunk people speak foreign languages better, or just muster up the courage after drinking?
To answer this question, British and Dutch researchers conducted an experiment published in the journal of Psychopharmacology. And it turned out that the subjects were indeed more fluent after a small dose of alcohol — even if they themselves did not think so.
The study covered 50 of the Germans, whose native language was German, and who at that time studied at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands near the border with Germany. Subsequently, all participants in the study said that drank at least from time to time, and because they were taught Dutch, they recently managed to pass the exam, demonstrating that you own the Dutch language.
During the experiment, people were asked to pass a two-minute interview in Dutch. On the eve of one half of the participants given a drink of water, the other some kind of alcoholic beverage. The dose of alcohol consumed depended on the weight test subjects: for men weighing 70 kilograms — less than half a litre.
These conversations were recorded and then evaluated by native speakers of Dutch, who did not know anyone was drinking alcohol. Participants were also asked to rate themselves based on how free they felt during the conversation.
Surprisingly, alcohol did not affect the self-esteem of the subjects. Those who drank were not more confident or satisfied with their performances than those who drank just water.
And they still made better. In General, speakers of Dutch rated the people from the alcohol group as those who had a more free style of communication — especially good pronunciation. Stars out of possession of grammar, vocabulary and the ability to convincingly prove the opinion was the same — in favor of those who are drunk.
The authors indicate that the dose of alcohol used in the experiment was small, so large doses may not give such a favorable effect. In the end, excessive consumption of alcohol can have quite the opposite effect on the freedom of language even lead to unintelligible speech.
Due to the fact that subjects knew they were drinking, it does not seem possible to prove it was the better language due to biological or psychological reasons. Previous studies have shown that people who thought that drinking alcohol could show the same level of improvement in language, as those that do drink.
Scientists say that the study is repeated on other groups of people — not only the Germans who learn Dutch. At least one such work in favor of the above theory is already in 1972 came to the conclusion that small doses of alcohol improved the pronunciation of Thai words by the Americans.
However, during the experiments did not take into account the emotions and psychological state of the subjects, so the authors consider it quite possible that a small or moderate dose of alcohol “reduced anxiety levels”, and then affect the language proficiency.