Thinking languages

I was thinking

weird is language

me, bilingual

there is a difference

in how I think Finnish

Written for https://dversepoets.com/2020/05/21/mtb-5-line-japanese-poetic-forms/ prompt. My favourite bar. I know fuck all about Japanese poetic forms, but I do like these symbols and how they can be used so this is what I came up with from the prompt. Would this maybe be a Kyoka? Tried even the 5-7-5-7-7 syllable count, which for me is highly structured as I usually write …intuitively? I mean I do have “the big picture”-thought structure but I usually assemble it without much attention to detail.

The topic, of how language changes how we think interests me much. I am a Finn, I learned English in school, through computers and reading. And later talking of course. So I am a self-declared bilinguist, though I’ve had some top notch teachers aka conversation companions too! Like you!

It came to me as I have this one story, from a childhood memory of mine which I’m trying to turn into a kind of adults fable (“white cradle”, I have met through net an amazing multivisual artist and we’re trying to make a book out of it.), originally written some 16 years ago in Finnish. As the visual artist, for some reason doesn’t speak Finnish I started translating it into English, as I don’t in turn speak Swedish. I was amazed. When I had the story in mind and let myself pour it out, it comes out somewhat different in English. Like almost a different thing totally, I can’t rightly translate the Finnish though-sphere into English.. I mean you say for example “she is even more pretty”, in Finnish it incorporates into the main word “hän on nätimpi”. ‘Hän’ is ‘She/He,’ ‘on’ means is and ‘nätimpi’ ‘even more pretty’. So the structure of the language changes the structure of thought. Like in Orwell’s 1984.

But also the mood and style change. I wonder if someone would chat with me in English in one profile, and in Finnish on other, would he have or get the idea that this is the same person? If I just wrote like I always do.

I also thought of a math based language and how would one perceive all if thinking in those terms. How would that society be like? And with music you can express all kinds of emotion, and that’s math. Wish I knew math more, or like at all…

Umm.. Lots’a after thought….You didn’t have to read all this way, sry if I made you. Here’s a treat reward of a kind!
🙂

Kind about what my poem is of, distantly or maybe not really at all. But I already put it here and it’s fun. Simple line change trick. Or how you can read a txt even if you remove all the vocals, your mind fills the gap with most likely word quite fcking fast! Idea for a poem…

38 thoughts on “Thinking languages

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  1. Noam Chomsky already talked ages ago about how they are using language, amongst other today highly developed mental tricks to affect the way we think.
    Today to create division and confusion, so you’re either an extremist or paralyzed.
    And the whole left right thing is a hypnotists pendulum, fight and blame, don’t stop and think.

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  2. It is interesting. I’m not fluent in any other language, but it makes sense that one would find expression and even thought different in another language. Even native English speakers will sometimes turn to another language to name something that isn’t a word in English.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Language gives rhythm and borderlines (almost used boundaries, but have to stick to my name! 😁) to our thinking. The less language, the less ability to think for it takes effort to think abstract without words. I’d bet my lines on that developement of language and consciousnes go hand in hand.

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  3. I speak one language, English, and that, not all that well. Words and language are mysterious to me. Loved your poem, and appreciate the story. And no, I never saw two “the’s’ ( ?) n the last poem. Clever. Our brains assume too much and miss so much.

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    1. We sense so much less than we think, a lot is our brain just guessing based on experience.
      But the language affects, it’s hard to think things you have no word for. Not impossible, but doesn’t happen by accident. Were I a psychology student this might be a good subject to study!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course there is! Both are relative, Anglo-Roman languages to English, which should make it easier! For me pronounciation of French was seemingly impossible.
      Hard for me to understand why you’d give a word a different pronounciation from the written version, and that includes English. Just, why?

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    1. Hmm.. Depends, I mean give me a concept or an idea and I’ll write about it in either language, but then to translate that into the other language? Direct translating rarely works, but then I find myself in a whole new path if I just have the concept to write in both languages. Likely two very different texts.
      Then there is decent translation, which you might mean, where you try to convey the idea and meaning and mood, without changing the overall narrative too much.. 🤔😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was thinking how each language probably presents itself to you differently. I’m not bilingual but I imagine there are things that are easier to express in one language or the other. And even the sounds and rhythms are different.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, very much so! In Finnish I’m more to the point, less playful maybe, with the words. While with English I like to flow and often end up somewhere unexpected.
        For some reason, matters of metaphysics and such are easier to write in English too.
        Finnish is beautiful in its organic simplicity, “slower” language.
        While English is pa-pa-patatita-oa-pa Finnish would be maa – ei – kauaa – enaa – kummempaa.. So more contemplative from the offset one would think, still, I write in English what I contemplate.. 🤷‍♀️

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I studied Spanish years ago when we lived in South America. I’ve lost most of it now, but I still dream infrequently in Spanish, where I am always perfectly fluent in both speech and understanding. I always wake in wonder and of course with yearning. But its so amazing that nothing is lost. i love your post and the conversation you inspired. Even in one language a word may slip and slide curve and cavort. It’s endlessly fascinating.

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    1. Reminds me of a D’verse poem, book spine, where I used the fact that the Finnish word “palaa” can be translated either as “returns” or as “burns”, or how in Finnish “Uni” is “dream” makin “universe”. ..
      Yup, languages are a kind of magic in my opinion. Also alive, evolving and changing, them and so us..

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  5. On the subject, I’ve noticed a worrying phenomenom. Namely this new 160/250 mark bitesize form of expression. People think more than 3 sentences is a long text! And with such a short bandwith, your mind gets into narrow meme receiver and re-distributor.
    Also, people don’t “listen”, meaning read others. Instead they project their emotion and prejudice into the text, and misunderstandings become common. And confusion makes it easier to feed the short bite mindset.
    Web isn’t free, they drive you into bubbles so only like minded meet. Making some of those people think theirs is the only bubble, too narrow view to see outside borderlines. Assuring extremes and short sighted idiots, as education is forced to be bad by cuts.
    Good for economy.
    Thank gods there is pubs like D’verse, where people have attention span and dont consider reading and writing and thinking a chore. 🤓

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Language is weird, but so interesting and engrossing. Linguistics was one of the subjects I studied at university. I speak English and German, and can usually find my way around Scandinavian languages, but Finnish is so different! I had a lovely friend, Paivi, from Finland, who sadly passed away, who was proficient in English, German and Russian, but I could never get the hang of learning her mother tongue, even though she tried to teach me. I used to dream in German, now I only dream in English, and yes, there is a difference in the content and in my thinking. It becomes even more obvious when translating: technical manuals are straightforward, but fiction is a matter of interpretation. I too am sometimes at a loss for a word, in an y language!

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    1. Thank you for the sense of relation and, you know understanding me.
      I’ve studied German for 9 years as I went to Steiner school, but from the ages between 7-16, never used it and on 7th grade in Finland we have to learn Swedish, or at least try to study it. For me it just mixed my head, never learnt the language and it messed my German studies. English I learned so naturally that I really don’t even remember when I started to read books in English if original language, but I understood and spoke some English at 3rd grade.
      But maybe I have the German in my spine, just should spend some time there. To learn to speak and understand, not to write though.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. 🤣 Thank you and yes it should! Languages evolve and change all the time, some die away and for example modern English is pretty different from what it used to be. So let’s declare it a word!

      Like

  7. My wife is bi-lingual–Portugese and English–with a strong proficiency in Spanish. She’s told me that sometimes she’ll forget the Portugese word for some English one. She still does math in her head in Portugese, and she’ss sometimes recite rote prayers (like the Our Father) at Mass in them, too. I can only wish that I had such problems.

    I like your brevity of expression. It captures the essence of tanka. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, and yes I have the same. I know the word and meaning in English but sometimes can’t for the life of me remember what it was in Finnish,
      I had an one and a half year when I was out and about Europe and noticed that the language I was thinking with changed into English, I dreamed in English, thought in English and when I talked to someone in Finland it felt weird, almost like I was translating.. Only in one and a half year!
      Have to admit, interesting problem! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It is kind of weird, I can be only either “Finnish” or “English” settings, which then forms the way I thought, I seriously sometimes know a word and what it means in English, but just forget what it was in Finnish,,,
      Consciousness is like a spotlight, showing you a part of your mind at a time, All might still be too much.

      Liked by 1 person

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