Quick poll - Synesthetes?
How many of us who frequent the forums have synesthesia? Just a quick poll. It doesn't track location or anything, I disabled the tracking.
Bonus points if you tell me if it affects how you learn languages, which ones you choose, and if they make certain languages more enjoyable. :) I enjoy Spanish because it's an enhanced version of English, the colors are vibrant, and I like the sensations I get when speaking.
In some ways, having synesthesia is a huge plus for learning a language. I'm not sure if I'd even be able to learn one without it. I have to work very hard to remember anything in general. Seeing words with colors allows me more than one option for recall. Sometimes the word comes first, sometimes just a general sense of what colors I'm looking for. That can jump start my search.
Also, if I use a written or typed list of vocabulary words I'm trying to learn, they go into a file. And words in the file have varying degrees of opacity in grey based on how well they are sitting in my memory.
However, there are also some challenges my own synesthesia has presented when it comes to languages beyond my first. Swedish genders, for instance, are the opposite color than I expect because because of their color. Even though the words are in my memory banks, the syesthesia "correct answer impulse" arrives more quickly than than correct, correct answer impulse. :P
For Japanese, there is a bit of a train wreck going on. The color of some of the hiragana characters do not match the sounds that they make! And there is definitely something interesting going on in my brain because AEIOU (English vowels) Don't match some of their Japanese counter parts. E (long vowel) in English is green. However, the same sound when I'm in Japanese mode is white. I believe this is interference from the written end of things. In English, the written I is white. This is the roman character used to represent い in Japanese, which is also white but makes the sound of a long English E. And, as a person who has difficulty with directions already, Japanese hiragana and kanji don't match in color but they come in red and green, the same as right and left in English. (though, even the word "right" is quirky, because by all rights (haha unintended) the word is composed of orange and white spectrum colors. But there is some rule unknown to me governing certain letters that can leave a word's color in contrast to the letters composing it. :P (Really, I think it all may have got a bit jumbly when I took a big bump to my head.) Needless to say, I'm not good with directions in English, I'm doubley terrible with them in Japanese.
I uh, kinda went into the zone there and wrong a novel that most people probably won't follow >.> ehehe ^^; (self-conscious bunny)
The weird exceptions that make no sense and can't be explained are the best. My 'E's and '1's are both blue on their own and yellow when put next to anything (even another 'E' or '1'). 'T' and 'H' are both orange, but 'TH' is purple. Why? I don't know, that's just what happens.
For some people, sounds that the brain perceives establish a connection to certain colors. Words or music containing those sounds generate the perception of an associated color. The exact nature of the color varies from individual to individual. For some, it is very pronounced and can be used as a learning tool. For others it is less pronounced.
They may feel like they see music or words as much as they hear them. Most synesthetes consider it an advantage (with good reason to do so). Needless to say, researchers into brain processes are much interested in how it works and why it is present in some but not others.
I guess that's easy to say if you don't have it (cf. Misophonia). Do you really want to have two sensory and/cognitive systems 'collide' (smell cookies and feel a burning in your hand; see blue and having the urge to escape; arbitrary examples)?
edit Usually, patients with a neurological condition wish not to have it.
For me, words take on one single color (that of their first letter) so unfortunately this doesn't help me memorize genders in German or French (all their articles are the same color grrrrrr). However, I do perceive some colors as stronger than others and I feel like I have an easier time remembering words of those colors; they just stand out in my mind better.
Also, some languages gravitate towards a particular color as I learn them. In addition to the individual words, the whole of German feels naturally purple, French blue, Spanish a kind of red-orange, etc. Italian gravitates towards beige and I wonder if that's why I don't personally consider it to be that beautiful of a language (I mean, seriously, beige). English isn't like this for me (because it's my native language? probably?) and I really hope it stops as I learn the other languages better.
Ah, yeah, that would be a problem. I can see that, I'm sure it would!
German is brick red for me, French is also red, Spanish is yellow-orange. I've thought of Italian as red, too, ha ha. I also wonder if my colors are determined by my feelings, Spanish being my favorite language, and different from the rest. Maybe. It could just be standard, in that sense.
Spanish is bright red, but German is blue. (Blue is my favorite color, but I don't like German, so I don't know why that is.) French is pink although that may be influenced by my "oo la la" sense of France. :)
Italian is white, Spanish is red-orange, German is brown, French is yellow (because apparently, if you put r between f and e it becomes a very intense yellow. By all rights it should have been green.)
I probably don't have synesthesia, but the year calendar is laid out very specifically in my mind, I could draw it, yet it makes no sense to others. (it really does make perfect sense, though.)
As for colors, January is white; February is grayish-light blue; March is more lime green, though not really; April is sunshine yellow; May is a stronger yellow, but with a slight tint of pink, but not really orange; June is most definitely blue, my favorite color; July is like a yellow-ish orange type color, though more orange; August is red; September is like a dark red, kind of like maroon; October is orange, but like dirty orange (I don't much care for October); November is scarlet; December is like the color of bluegrass. I can't really see these colors, but these are the colors I associate with the months. It's complicated.
If I thought about it I could probably tell you more of things like this that happen to me, but none of it affects my learning languages, I don't think. I mean, I may unconsciously think of words with colors or something, and that might help me remember them, and I just don't realize it.
[Edit:] I realized why the sentence "la camisa está amarilla" bothers me so much! A is most definitely red. Everything in that sentence contradicts me! That's why I like roja a lot better than rojo (which in all respects should be blue, as o is blue). Roja agrees with me. :)
Oh I also think of some numbers as people. :) (like 5 is a brownish-orangeish fat man) Plus in music I think of colors and random things. (I was listening to a classical song and all the sudden it made me think of pin-up girls and the color red. Whaat??)
As I write this, I can't help but think: do I have synesthesia?
I don't have word/color synesthesia and a very limited letter/number/color synesthesia, but I have word/shape/taste/smell/movement synesthesia :P (they aren't all jumbled at the same time, but there are intricate connections between things). Some words are just too long or squiggly to be what they mean or vice versa. Like the Finnish word ilme and it's English counterpart facial expression how on earth can they mean the same thing 0.o I might even refuse to use certain words because of this. Mostly my synesthesia doesn't affect learning languages, but when I write it's constantly in the way as I have to look really hard to find a word that tastes right :P And when I try to describe emotions, I end up with color/smell/movement.
I haven't heard of the word movement portion before. That's really interesting!
My synesthesia is so weird that I often don't want to call it synesthesia. What I mean by movement is a sense of direction, not a physical movement.
hmm.... certain things have what I would call a movement direction. Seasons, right, left, etc. Things that might be associated with time and math. But, my directions are wrong, which leads to some pretty funny/awkward happenings. (One time I was like, holy crap! There is snow on the mountains! Because right then my time sense moved the wrong direction and I thought it was the direct opposite time for snow.) I always associated it with a traumatic brain injury since I have discalculia from bonking my noggin. I thought it had messed up a sence of "direction" that people have naturally in general. But, I never can explain it to people so they understand... I didn't even think of synesthesia. The plot thickens. Dunno if it's synesthesia. But you saying that is the closest I've ever heard anyone describe my experience.
For me it could be like, I'm trying to describe an emotion, and the closest I can come to is saying, it's green square moving away from me to the right (made up example). Some smells have height and color (interestingly I have a friend who has similar heights and colors for smells :D). Oh and the best thing is, I've learned to taste sarcasm! Before I learned to do that, I wasn't even able to notice it! (It's a wide low smell, a bit earthy, mildly unpleasant.)
I've learned to taste sarcasm...It's a wide low smell, a bit earthy, mildly unpleasant.
That is the best thing I've heard/read someone say about synesthesia EVER! xD
I was thinking about the apparent disconnect between sensations for words in different languages that have the same meaning that you experience. If I understand you correctly, this discrepancy makes working with those particular words difficult.
There are powerful memory techniques that involve establishing an image for a given word. This image is then linked to other images in such a way that they reveal the word's meaning and/or sound. One difficulty with this technique is that it requires creating an image that is consistently connected to the word. This image has to be clear, consistent and always available instantly. Many students find the actual creation of a connection image to be very slow. From what you say there is a consistent connection provided to you that it is instantaneous and persistent.
I am left wondering what would happen if you used a third image to link the two conflicting images. Eg: a word in one language conjures up an unavoidable image of a ball, while the comparable word in another language is clearly a squiggly line which causes a feeling of dissonance within you. What would happen if you imagined the ball in the image rolling over and flattening the line which leaves it squiggly? Or the squiggly line is attached to the ball keeping it connected to an image that carries the sound or meaning of the word? One words sound of rushing water is connected to another word's smell of apple by an image of someone holding something that is pouring apple juice, where that someone and something establishes important information about the particular words?The point is that this process might turn the dissonance into consonance. They would help each other rather than try to replace each other.
Of course, I have no idea if this has even the remotest connection to the processes you are describing. But I do know that you have the native ability to do what others find is an obstacle to applying some very powerful memory techniques. These memory methods are very effective in learning foreign languages.
Thanks for the tip :)
I've always been too lazy to create images as a mnemonic. It sound like an awful lot of work and then I never bother to try. I find it much easier to just repeat the thing enough to remember it. It has worked with the ilme/facial expression example I gave and some other word related difficulties I have. I just have to repeat the connection with the word and meaning often enough ( and it takes a lot of time) to accept it. Though, sometimes I still get echoes of the old :)
Before the advent of simple, accessible methods of storing information, people had to rely on their memory. They developed techniques that allowed them to store and readily access hundreds of thousands of pieces of information.
The hardest part of the methods is developing workable, persistent images. The rest of it is something that practitioners learn in a couple of months. They say that once the skill is acquired it is like riding a bicycle, it is always there. Once more, they use it effortlessly all day long.
For me, the difficulty is finding it hard to believe that it will ever be simple and easy for me to quickly conjure up an image that will stay linked to the target piece of information. By quickly, I mean within a couple of seconds.
I have started examining these practices. Advocates say that image creation is he hard part but it becomes easier with a little practice. They consider it to be much easier than learning to type, for example. After a while your mind finds an image that works just like your finger finds the right key. It is just that unlike typing, there is no completely wrong image. Some images are faster and more simple than others but nothing can be wrong about them.
Now that is very interesting. I often wondered how helpful having synesthesia would actually be in the final analysis. It seems that it could be a distraction sometimes, especially if it was inconsistent in some way. But being able to turn it off and on at will would certainly be very helpful.
Thx. I'll check it out.
Checked out the links posted. I didn't find them useful. As near as I could figure, while the article covers an experiment involving training by using color, the forum comments seemed be from people who already had some degree of synethesia and were trying to codify it onto digital text. Or perhaps not. Their comments were very cryptic and seemed to involve a previously shared understanding of what they trying to achieve and how it should be done.
Clicking on he github link took me directly to some lines of code. There was no option to download and extract a zip file. There was no index.html file presented that could be dealt with. I'm not sure what was supposed to happen but what did happen didn't provide anything that would be useful. (that I knew how to deal with)
The download link to the zip is on the right side of screen near the bottom. Yeah the forum post were mostly on the software design.
I don't exactly know for sure because it confuses me, I answered no, but...
As I talk I see the words spelled out in my head, especially in other languages. Sometimes words and numbers (written, not spoken) seem like they'd be a certain color. I color all of my school binders the color I see the word being -- German is green, Physics is yellow, French is light blue...
I wouldn't say I connect EVERYTHING with colors, but... Yeah I really don't know. It doesn't really help me remember anything, however.
Ticker-Tape Synesthesia, that's what it sounds like to me. I have that one, it's exactly how you describe it. :) Ah, they are tinted, in a way? Sounds like Synesthesia to me!
It's not for everything, though. It's not like I say the word "TV" and think of gray, but if I just think about the word and what color it'd be, it easily comes to me that'd it be that color.
Also, when memorizing large chunks of text, I color code it because then I can see the sections in my head, where they are, and remember them. IDK if that has anything to do with it -- but I associate the text with the color I highlight it in. Helps me keep place.
I think I have heard of synesthesia before actually and have discussed it with someone... I have SOME symptoms of it. For years I associated the months with colors, and when I think about months, I see them as an 0 shaped loop divided up into different colored sections for each month, so I associated months with colors.
I can associate colors with February (light blue gray), March (green), April (pink), May (sky blue), July (yellow), August (pastel burnt red), September (pink), October (burnt orange-brown), November (gray), December (dark pastel green)...
I wouldn't say I have it for everything and I don't really use it in learning languages though.
My synesthesia helps me learn languages Not In The Slightest, on account of it being music/colours :D
There are some gifted composers who have synesthesia and attribute part of their success to the extra capability that the condition seems to provide. Stevie Wonder being a notable example.
I only recently read about Synesthesia for the first time, and was quite amazed to discover I probably have a form of it - I don't associate words or numbers with colors (with the one exception that in my mind the number "4" is invariably blue...), but I have what according to the Wikipedia article about Synesthesia is "Spatial sequence synesthesia", meaning that I see numerical sequences as points in space and months or dates in the space around me, as well as "Number form", which is a mental map of numbers in space.
To be quite honest, neither helps much with learning languages. :-) However, they were a great help with learning history, since in my mind, when learning historical dates for the first time, they just tend to take their "place in space" in relation to other points in time and then I can usually "see" where they are (at least approximately) without having to memorize them.
Does anybody else experience a similar thing? I've never met anyone so far...
Yes, I do, my number form is just in my mind's eye, I'm not a projector. :) It does help greatly though, memorizing years. Mine is a tad complicated though, it's not just numbers. :P
I'm not entirely sure if this is synesthesia but I see years as colours. 2010 is black, 2011 is silvery-white, 2012 is orange, 2013 is green etc.
I don't see letters or words as colours.
I am a synesthete. I get pretty strong smells and tastes when learning certain types of vocabulary, so if anything I know the names of foods and drinks fairly well.
Right on! When I look at things I feel textures and can taste the thing. At a local breakfast/lunch place, there is a mural of a pancake that is so convincing, when I look at it, I taste the pancake instead of the wall! I don't taste vocab words though :(
Hi there! I have synesthesia. For me it has been a great joy actually. Words and music have colors in my mind. The word mind itself for me is dark violet. When it comes to languages, I have had a great joy because I feel like there is a rainbow in my mind when learning various languages. With Irish especially, I feel every shade of green. Swedish for me is green, blue, and yellow. Just some examples (:
I have it: for me, numbers and letters are gendered and have personalities;days of the week have colours. I also have the 'ticker-tape synesthesia' thing of seeing sort of subtitles when I speak or hear someone else speak. This has advantages and disadvantages - on one hand, I am an excellent speller - I just know how to spell words as long as I've seen them written down before, and get really annoyed when people spell simple things wrong, as I just don't get how you can't see a word! But on the other hand, despite trying for years to speak foreign languages, and studying linguistics, living in foreign speaking countries and being a real grammar nerd, I just can't seem to learn other languages as I just have no idea what words or even sounds people are saying when they speak if I'm not really familiar with what the written words look like.
Getting really annoyed is a common feature of a perceptual discontinuity. I have a perceptual deficit (which is obvious only to me). I get really annoyed when circumstances make the results apparent. It is typical of perceptual issues.
It is interesting that your ticker tape syndrome is associated with your native language which is managed from one part of the brain but not foreign languages which are usually handled elsewhere.
My suggestion (f.w.i.w.) is to focus on a language that doesn't use words in the sense that you are accustomed to. Try a language like Chinese where the symbols that are manipulated to convey meaning and sound are so divorced from a native English speaker's experience, that it seems like a completely different process.
If you wanted to learn a secret code that used a picture of a horse to represent an airplane and a snowflake to represent a cell phone, I don't think you would be wondering where your customary supports of gender, number and ticker tape had gone. I might be wrong but I suspect that it wouldn't enter your mind that there should be a ticker tape showing an image of an airplane every time you saw a picture of a horse or h.o.r.s.e spelled out every time you saw an airplane.
To learn a foreign language, you are going to have to find a way to bypass your perceptual advantage with your native language in a way that makes it totally irrelevant.
Something I notice is that you are taking several similar languages at once. In your case, that seems like stacking the deck against yourself.
Just my thoughts on your very interesting post.
Wow. It sounds awesome to see Spanish differently than English. I do have some form of synesthesia. It is the one which makes me see some numbers and letters in colors. That way some words are a mix of many colours. I'm not sure if it affects something else I have not realized.
I can't say synesthesia would've had an effect on my language learning. Most words are just normal words to me and numbers are just a way to tell the amount of something. Still, I read that those who have synesthesia usually have a better memory. Which is interesting because I think I really do have a better memory than people usually do, but only in some cases. I have to make experiments and figure out more since I don't even know it well myself!
I have no idea when this began or whether it's been with me since my birth. At least a few years ago I remember thinking about it, but I didn't know it was rare and there were different forms of it and that research is done about it. Maybe I asked someone if they could see the same but I didn't find anyone else. I don't know, can't remember. This changed a couple of days ago when my friend suddenly asked me whether I imagined a colour when I thought of a number. I was shocked since that meant I wasn't alone with it. And it could mean there were other similar people in the world.
I guess I'm the only one in my family. I wonder whether this is related with my interest (and skill, I've been told) in arts. Especially something to do with drawing or painting and such. Furthermore, although I haven't tried playing many instruments, somehow I'm getting more and more drawn into the world of playing and learning about music. Is this connected to any abilites with logical thinking? And where does synesthesia come from?
Just to add one more thing: I have a good visual memory at least, and when pictures are colored, I can remember them better, although I prefer drawing black and white myself using only a graphite pencil.
I wouldn't be here now if I hadn't watched GMM's most recent video, Can You Hear Colors? (TEST) [https://youtube.com/watch?v=xj7vukZT9sI] Because the title reminded me of my number-color patterns, I clicked to watch it and was fascinated to see that it was actually related to the condition I also seem to have.
This whole thing is so amazing and weird and is almost making my brains hurt and me wanting to cry. (No idea why the latter, probably I'm overthinking or I'm happy to know this is not only me.) Now I want to find out if I have any other friends with this cool thingy. As I mentioned I'm not sure if this has something to do with my language learning. There's a lot I don't know and so much I could learn about synesthesia. Since this affects my life, I'm going to continue my research.
A semi-apology for writing so much. ^_^ I hope this is helpful or even a tiny bit interesting, but mostly I wrote this for me. I'm quite late for this too.
I've discovered my synesthesia is called the grapheme-color synesthesia. It is quite lame because only some letters have colours, mostly vowels, and I can't tell the colour of greater numbers than ten as easily as under that. Though numbers tend to be of several colours when they are over 9. Since 2 is yellow and 4 is red for me, 24 is half yellow and half red. It's not a mix of the colours.
I also identified myself with ticker-tape synesthesia. It is probably more dominant than the other, but I haven't really thought about it before. I see words in front of me in my mind, which has helped me to learn the spelling of words in English at least. I am studying German now, and the different letter combinations for same sounds don't always make sense to me. But I guess it just needs practice to get used to that. So the ticker-tape has been an advantage to me in regards of language learning.
I'm not really sure if this is synesthesia or not, but I associate emotions with certain pieces of music, and vice versa. What's really strange is that sometimes an emotion connects to one piece, but that piece connects to a different emotion. For instance, joy (not especially surprisingly) connects to Ode to Joy, but Ode to Joy connects to courage. I never really understood why the latter is what it is, but it always has been, and probably always will be. Another example would be love, which for some unknown reason is Pachelbel's Canon in D. But that's not love, it's pride. Again, I have no idea why. It's just bizarre.
I think it can. It's taking me longer to get comfortable writing Dutch because I mix up colors, but Spanish is much easier for me in terms of remembering vocabulary and applying them. :)
I thought synesthesia was really rare there must be more people that have it than I thought
Just speculation on my part but it seems probable that individuals who experience words and language in a more expanded way than most people are more likely to end up at a website that deals in some way with the expanded use of language.
I imagine that music web sites have a disproportionate share of people who experience music through the lens of synesthesia.
I enjoy dutch just because of the fact that it never stops suprising me. Before I started learning dutch I thought it was a cheap imitation of german, but now I know it is way far from being that.
I am only aware of having it for "Wednesday" and "Thursday" in my native tongue English.