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Brain question

I am wondering how many people actually think in words. I will try to explain what I mean: Let's say someone like a sibling is always pestering you by poking you in the ribs with a pencil. The next time they walk in the room, do you automatically keep an eye on them with out thinking, or do you say to yourself, "I wonder if they are going to poke me again. He's not holding a pencil though... I'll watch him anyways"? If you keep an eye on them without thinking, that is what I call thinking without words. I don't "think with words" unless I am going to say something or I'm analyzing what someone has said. I may be strange, but since I don't think in words, when someone says something, it doesn't always register as English. I have to remember the sounds and figure out what they said. So what I am wondering is--Is there any of you who think like I do? or do you think in words? I am also wondering if it makes language learning harder or easier. Please give me your opinion. Thanks!

April 26, 2017



For me, it's actually a mix between the two. Sometimes words, sometimes abstract thoughts. I find that thinking abstractly helps me with language. Instead of "水 = water," it's more like "水 = concept of water," if that makes sense. When translating Japanese to English, I don't really translate directly from one language to another, I translate the Japanese into concepts, which my natively-English brain easily works out into English. It's esspecially useful in conversation because I don't need to essentially "decode" what the speaker says, it just more-or-less makes sense.


I'm glad someone understands what I mean! Thanks for commenting!


I understood you. But this is very hard question to get real answer. Humans start to think before the learining language. And after we learn language, some people usually have limited their self within the language.


I frequently think in words. Your poke in rib question is more of an exception, as we have a primitive understanding of danger far below our understanding of language.

But any half-way complicated abstract thought, and I need to switch to language thinking. Sometimes I cannot find good enough grammar for a very complicated thought and that bothers me. I think it is not a great idea to think in words, but I cannot help it.

Do you manage to think somewhat complicated / abstract thoughts without words ? Any tips ?


I am always thinking in complicated thoughts and hardly ever know how to word them. I think more in pictures for some things and for other things (this is hard for me to explain), I think more in what I describe as feelings or even emotions. I call them emotions because (like in my "poke in rib" question) you automatically know something without actually thinking about it. To explain what I mean by pictures: to help in math when I was little, I pictured numbers as arranged blocks or dots; five was two dots on top of two dots with one more dot on top to the side of the column (never in the middle as I will explain), three was two dots with one on top to the side, and so on. Even numbers were just columns of two however high they needed to go. As I added the numbers together, I "built" the towers in my head. When I got to a tower over five layers high, I "cut" the five out and left the other dots left. I just remembered how many tens I had cut out and added in the extra dots to get the answer. So the reason I never "placed" the odd numbered dot on top of the column in the middle, was because when I put the next column I was adding on top, it wouldn't "click" together and keep the column straight up. Anyway... I ended up being able to do large math problems in my head but I couldn't do short ones as fast as the kids who just memorized the answers. I hope this helps you understand what I mean by thinking without words.


I forgot to add that it has helped me think complicated thoughts. Because of my very visual thinking, I was able to grasp the concept of squares and square roots very easily and I loved it because it was almost exactly how I thought in math. I have gone on to enjoy algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus and have done well in all of them. I don't know what you mean by giving you tips though.


I like how you refer to siblings coming in the room as "understanding danger." :)

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