After I wrote that last post about language and gender I thought about how language not only shapes how we think but actually shapes who we are. They say babies make every kind of possible sound and only when they learn one particular language do they forget the sounds they no longer need.

Speaking a language changes the pitch of your vocal cords. Listen to a woman speaking Arabic, then to a woman speaking Japanese. The Arabic speaker’s voice will always be lower, the Japanese speaker’s voice will be higher.

In 2009 I did solo concerts is Europe and when I played in Germany, I spoke to the audience in German, of course. Jon Gagan traveled with me and engineered the sound in every venue. One day he asked me whether I knew that my German voice was pitched lower than my English voice. At first I thought he was joking, but he wasn’t. It was definitely NOT something I was aware of or did knowingly. I started to pay attention and noticed that he was right. I like the pitch of my German voice better, but it is quite difficult to maintain it when I speak English.