Human Language Processing (?)

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Human Language Processing (?)

Postby Huixuan » Fri 27 Aug 2010 7:53 pm

I'm mostly a normal person (special of course ;)), but I've had this weird mental thing where I can't process any language, including my native English, without seeing the actual letters in my head somehow. Not exactly sure why this is, although sometimes I wonder if I have less ability to understand people when they mumble. Even when I hear a language I don't know, I have to process the language into letters somehow, which can get messy when it's a language I'm trying to learn! Sound familiar or no?
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Re: Human Language Processing (?)

Postby dtp883 » Sat 28 Aug 2010 7:33 am

I normally picture pictures or general ideas in my head, but only when I am thinking or a person is talking slowly enough. These pictures aren't defined and definite, they are foggy or, more like, a pictures printed without enough ink, and move pretty quickly.

The words start, comenzar, and commencer are all the same picture of a marathon starting line in a park, like from a children's book. Strangely, though, the word eat makes me think of a pizza on a yellow table, the word comer makes me think of someone eating salad in a restaurant, the word manger makes me think of someone eating oysters.

Sorry for going kind of off topic but I thought it may help you. As I said before, this only happens when I'm being spoken to slowly or thinking about it. Of course, for less common foreign words, such as alquilar, I picture the word <rent> in my mind.
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Re: Human Language Processing (?)

Postby Huixuan » Sat 04 Sep 2010 5:15 am

Hmm, I see.

I tend to see pictures usually as well as the words, even hearing fast speech. But it may have something to do with how sometimes I feel I'm not that good at processing English or any language for that matter, especially mumbling.

I guess I'm weird because when I see "eat" or "comer" it's a plate with like fish or broccoli on a table, but I see the respective words also. They're not in a relative position, it's like they're in different dimensions.

On a side note, I might as well note that it's not a good idea to associate foreign words with their English equivalents. When I hear "alquilar" I picture myself in a Blockbuster way back when you still rented videos. When you associate an English word with the foreign equivalent, you slow down your parsing speed. Sometimes you can't help it though.

I still wonder why I actually see the words though. Maybe it's that I use the computer a lot. But I know I've had this thing for a while. I haven't always had it obviously, even in Spanish, in which case I never remember formally even learned the orthography, I just picked it up. I just hate it because I have no idea what it's like to speak a language but not be able to write it.
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Re: Human Language Processing (?)

Postby dtp883 » Tue 09 Nov 2010 6:23 am

I'm not sure if this will help you or how it is related exactly, but I thought you, and the forum, would find it interesting.

So my Spanish teacher has a Portuguese Dad, Mexican Mom, and lives here. From what I can tell, she speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and English fluently. I asked her what language she thought in most and she said Spanish and she thinks through the other languages. But, to me, her English seems so fluent she has to think in it sometimes.

My French teacher (who I personally think is amazingly lucky) was born in Spain to an English-Spanish mother and an American father. She grew up in the Catalonia region and went to a French High School. She speaks Spanish, French and English fluently, and claims to speak Catalan, but I've never heard her. I asked her the same question and said that for the most part while she's been in America she thinks in English and thinks in Spanish in Spain or with her spanish-speaking friends. She said she has to think through French but she couldn't tell if she thought through it with Spanish or English. (I don't know, is it possible that she thinks in French but isn't entirely comfortable?) :?:

Just thought I'd give you more examples of processing.
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Re: Human Language Processing (?)

Postby Tikolm » Wed 19 Sep 2012 3:30 am

I also picture words spelled out in my head, at least (I think) if I know the language somewhat. I don't understand how it would slow you down. As for what languages you can think in, I mostly think in English, but when there's French around me I tend to think in French, and every once in a while bits of Welsh get into the mix (funny that). I picture all of that spelled out.
I'm also someone who gets different mental pictures from the same word in different languages, but in this case they're nothing I can really explain in clear terms; my mental pictures are more on the fuzzy side.
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