Loosened Lips

Does my margarita make me MORE articulate?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down Science.

Alcohol affects how our brain works and remembers. Many bilingual speakers claim their foreign language skills IMPROVE after a drink. But is it just liquid courage? Fritz Renner at Maastricht University in the Netherlands wanted to find out.

Researchers took German speakers who were learning Dutch, and split them into two groups. The experimental group got to knock back a few drinks before practicing the new language. Participants reached a blood alcohol level of around point zero four percent.

The control group received a non-alcoholic beverage before engaging in conversation. Afterwards, volunteers rated themselves on their language skills. Recordings were also judged by native Dutch speakers who didn’t know who drank what.


Self-rated scorings between experimental and control volunteers didn’t differ. However, native speakers rated the language skills in volunteers who consumed alcohol BETTER than the control group!

What about other skills, like math? Not so good… The drinking group scored worse than the control in both self-rated AND objective scoring for math.

So maybe just a glass of cabernet a day — unless you’re trying to balance your checkbook!