But where exactly is the tongue located in the brain? Research has identified two main "language centers" that are located on the left side of the brain.
This is Broca's Zone, which is tasked with managing the processes leading to the delivery of speech, and Wernicke's Zone, whose main role is to "decipher" speech.
If a person suffers a brain injury that causes damage to one of these areas, it will impair their ability to speak and understand what is being said.
However, research shows that learning more languages - and learning them well - has its own effect on the brain, increasing the size and activity of certain areas of the brain other than traditional "language centers."
Moreover, the more languages we learn, especially in childhood, the easier it is for our brain to process and memorize new information.
Learning a language increases the ability of brain cells to form new connections quickly.
How language changes our perception
However, does switching between different languages change our perception of the world that surrounds us?
The language we use changes not only how we think and express ourselves, but how we perceive and interact with the world.
The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, describes how bilingual speakers of English and German tend to perceive and describe context differently depending on the language they are currently immersed in.
In German, the participants described an action in relation to a goal. For example: "This person is going to that building."
And when they speak English, they usually only mention the action: "This man is coming."
'Languages are living things'
Lera Broditzky, an assistant professor of cognitive sciences at the University of California, San Diego, who specializes in the relationship between language, brain, and human perception of the world, also reported similar findings.
As an example, she cites the case of the Kuuk Thaayorre, an Australian tribe that describes everything to the cardinal points.
“And when I say“ everything, ”I really mean“ everything, ”she said in her speech. “You would say something like, 'Oh, you have an ant on your southwest leg,' or, 'Move the cup a little north-northeast,'” she explains.
“The beauty of linguistic diversity is that it shows us how resourceful and flexible the human mind is. The human mind has invented not one cognitive universe, but seven thousand. [There are] 7000 languages spoken worldwide. And we can create a lot more. Languages [...] are living things, things that we can hone and change according to our needs."
Language has so much power over our minds, decision-making processes and life, so we need to think about how we can use it to shape the way we think about ourselves and the world.