In this globalized world, interaction with individuals in a language other than our mother-tongue is increasingly common. This means that language is a relevant social cue to categorize and identify others. To understand the social side of language, we asked about the consequences of language categorization beyond language processing. In two studies, we investigated the impact of language categorization on face identification and recognition. To do so, face processing paradigms (visual oddball paradigm; old/new memory paradigm) were put at the service of language to explore how the language spoken by an individual, native or foreign, influences subsequent face processing. We provided evidence that:

  1. language is a relevant social cue rapidly obtained by individuals to categorize others and this affects person identification, and
  2. language categorization influences face recognition. In particular, difficulties in the processing of a foreign language affect later recognition of a face.

We concluded that language is a relevant social cue that influences processing beyond language.