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Re: OT: What is your qualia of consciousness / thought? (WAS: does conlanging change your sense of reality?)

From:Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Date:Monday, April 6, 2009, 14:12
On Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 7:12 AM, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
<> wrote:

> I am definitely in the "abstract" category. My thoughts are strongly both > non-verbal and non-visual (although I can think words and pictures, that's
> This has some interesting effects: > - I learn languages easily. People often say that they constantly have to
Wow, that's counter-intuitive.
> "translate in their head" from their native language to another language and > back when they speak to someone else in a foreign language. I don't do that > (except in the first stages of learning a new language, when I still need
Right; I suppose most people who are really fluent in a secondary language have gotten past the need to mentally translate, whether by learning to think in the secondary language directly, like myself and other primarily verbally-thinking people, or by learning to convert their nonverbal thoughts directly into the secondary language, like yourself.
> - I am very bad at translating from one language to the other. Since I go > directly from my thoughts to whatever language I need at the moment, I have > very few "bridges" between the languages I speak. When asked to translate a > sentence from one language to the other, I need to get the meaning of the > original sentence back into my "fog of thoughts" before I can reformulate it > in another language. The result is usually more an explanation than a > translation, as I try to capture a specific thought into a language that > doesn't always have an exact equivalent.
Hmm. This actually sounds a lot like my own mental translation process, at least between languages that are extremely dissimilar. (I can often translate between English, French and Esperanto without conscious, deliberate thought; but going to or from gzb, or Greek, takes more reasoning and experimenting until the "semantic feel" of the translated sentence is about the same as that of the original.)
> - On the other hand, I can code-switch extremely easily. I can say the same > thing to three different people in three different languages without batting > an eye, as long as the original abstract thought is in my head and ready for > language conversion. I also tend to mix and match languages, often without > realising it, or start speaking realising only half way through that I am > speaking English when I should be speaking Dutch and Dutch when I should
This is partly similar to my own experience; I spontaneously code-switch frequently while thinking silently to myself, but *deliberately* code-switching when a social situation requires it (e.g., at a meeting where there is a mix of Esperanto-speakers and monolingual English speakers -- or interrupting a conversation in Esperanto with a table-mate to talk to the waiter in English) takes some effort and sometimes goes wrong.
> ..... There's nothing > more annoying than having 5 languages available and still being at a loss > for words. My thoughts just don't often fit the nice pigeon-holes that the > languages I know provide.
That happens to me occasionally; it sometimes leads me to coin a new word in gzb. -- Jim Henry


Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets <>