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

From:Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets <>
Date:Monday, April 6, 2009, 11:12
2009/4/3 Sai Emrys <sai@...>

> > O CONLANGers: what is *your* qualia of thought? > >
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 only when I want to think *specifically* about them as words or pictures, rather than as the concepts behind them). I can also think verbally, but I feel it's impractical (I often lose threads of thoughts that way) and it only happens when I have a strong verbal support somewhere with me. When I'm writing a report for work, for instance, my thoughts tend to be verbal as they get associated with the written words. In the same way, when I'm speaking with someone my thoughts tend to become superficially verbal, actually using whatever language I'm using at that moment. Unfortunately, I find verbal thinking tiring, uncomfortable and awkward, which reflects back on my social skills :( . Note that while my thinking is purely abstract, in terms of understanding others I rely nearly exclusively on verbal communication. I am very bad at noticing and understanding body language, and I tend to take what others say literally. My husband says I focus on words rather than on what is meant. I can't understand somebody else unless they communicate with me verbally (I am very bad at guessing charades for instance). This has some interesting effects: - I learn languages easily. People often say that they constantly have to "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 another language as support). Or rather, I don't "translate in my head" from my native language to another. Rather, I convert directly from my fog of thoughts to whatever language I need to use at the moment (how well I speak that language will reflect only on how easily I can do this conversion, and my native tongue doesn't have a special position here). - 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. - 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 speak French! I guess the conversion process can go awry sometimes :) . - I often can't find words to say what I think, whatever the language (including my native tongue!). This is especially annoying in that I speak 3 languages fluently, and 2 more or less conversationally. 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. I know that I've always been a relatively abstract thinker, but I think learning (and actually using daily) other languages has only strengthened my abstract way of thinking, and pushed back verbal thinking to being a fringe behaviour. I think my thinking was more verbal when I was still monolingual. -- Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.


Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Sai Emrys <saizai@...>