Guy Duetscher's article on Does Your Language Shape How You Think? that appeared in The New York Times Magazine in August gets our vote for the best writing on language in 2010. In this fascinating article, Deutscher sets out to re-examine the now unfashionable notion that our mother tongue restricts what we are able to think. New research has revealed that when we learn our mother tongue, that while not restricted in what we can say in a particular language, we do after all acquire certain habits of thought that shape our experience in significant and often surprising ways. He then goes on to cite the linguist Roman Jakobson who pointed out a crucial fact about differences between languages in a pithy maxim: “Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey.” For Duetscher this maxim offers the key to unlocking the real force of the mother tongue: if different languages influence our minds in different ways, this is not because of what our language allows us to think but rather because of what it habitually obliges us to think about. The use of gender (or not), the words used to describe colour, the language of physical space are his intriguing cases in point.