Word of the day – proprioception

Proprioception [ˈpɹopɹiːoˌsɛpʃən], from Latin proprius (one’s own) and perception = the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body.

I came across the word proprioception while reading Richard Robinson very interesting book, Why the toast always lands butter side down – the Science of Murphy’s Law. Proprioception involves knowing where your limbs are, he explains, vital information that enables us to walk, run and stand upright. Apparently if you proprioception malfunctions, you might believe that one or more of your limbs belongs to someone else rather than you.

The book contains some interesting suggestions about how our brains process information – most of the data we receive from our senses is ignored by our concious minds and we construct our experience of the world largely based on past experience, guess work and emotion. So we generally see what we expect to see, hear what we expect to hear, and so on.

This suggests to me that one reason we may find the foreign languages difficult to understand is that we’re less able to rely on the past experience and guess work, as we would in our native tongue.

This entry was posted in English, Language, Words and phrases.

One Response to Word of the day – proprioception

  1. Declan says:

    I think I’ve always used Gestalt as the word for that (a similar word anyway), but it’s interesting when one a train to stand up and close your eyes, and see just how much we use all of our senses for balance.