Animals are way smarter than most of us give them credit for.
(Well, most animals – my dog excepted…but he is beautiful and loving and we don’t mind that he has the intelligence of a tuberous begonia. Our rabbit has enough smarts for both of them!)
Mastering the Moscow subway system is something stray dogs can, apparently, achieve! And, they seem to be better at assessing our psychology than most of us are at learning theirs…
Or, at least, a version of this…because I have noticed this in myself.
This ‘Wired’ article is about a recent study which found that people’s risk assessment appears to be less affected by linguistic positioning when they are functioning in a language they are just studying:
“It may be intuitive that people would make the same choices regardless of the language they are using, or that the difficulty of using a foreign language would make decisions less systematic. We discovered, however, that the opposite is true: Using a foreign language reduces decision-making biases,” wrote Keysar’s team.
It is an interesting article, well worth the read.
NOTE: The sign in the picture which accompanies the article says different things in English and in Czech.
The Czech wording, if simply translated, would say ‘Prohibition on Interpreting’. Though, for ease of use (and, perhaps symmetry), this would be interpreted as ‘Interpreting Forbidden’.
The Czech word for ‘translating’ (accents omitted) is ‘prekladani’. ‘Tlumoceni’ means ‘interpreting’.
There is a difference!
OK – details aside….
Thinking using any symbolic language is slow and cumbersome. It is much faster, clearer and accurate to think without the use of symbols. The difficulty comes in trying to express the process and/or results of this process in any kind on manner in order to communicate them: so much gets lost in any translation!
It often takes me a long time to find a way to communicate the results of my thinking to anyone, in any language. Sometimes, it takes me years – many years. (This is why I sometimes respond with: I know what I want to say, but it will take me a while to figure out how to say it…regardless of the language in question.)
However, often, I will reason things through in a language. And, because it may be a complex thing that will take me a while to reason through at this slow pace, I will sort of set it into the background of my mind. I find it impossible to do this in the language in which I happen to be functioning at that time: there is so much interference that my ‘background’ chain of thinking gets derailed. (Perhaps it’s my ADD…)
To make it easier, when I do the ‘background thinking’, I will set it in a different language than the one I happen to be functioning in at that time.
When I was doing business internationally, I often altered the ‘background’ processing language between the ones I was sufficiently ‘natural’ in to do this with (these differed over time). Or, if I had a conversation with a business associate in one language, then went on to talk to somebody else in another one, I would continue to analyze our conversation (and the proposed deal) in the language I had conducted it in (even if I were not ‘natural’ in it, because the details were in that language). This was very useful, as it allowed me to analyze several situations at the same time.
When, later, I would analyze the results of my thoughts and build a cohesive, cross-referenced picture in my mind (abandoning symbolic language), I noticed that my analysis would often differ, based solely on the language I had done it in.
So, I thought about it – quite obsessively – for a while. OK, years.
It soon became clear to me that my analysis was affected by the ‘colouring’ of words in the various languages. The less ‘natural’ I was in that specific language, the less ‘coloured’ the reasoning would be – but it would also be much less nuanced.
I have often wondered if this is ‘normal’ to all humans, if this is ‘natural’ to Aspies’, or if my brain is simply wired funny. And, I would greatly appreciate any feedback on this from other people who have even remotely similar experiences.
In conclusion: for years, I have been saying that the ‘colouring’ of words affects our reasoning on a profound level and that we ought to pay more attention to this phenomenon.
She herself has degrees in Mathematica and Music (which is really just one form of applied mathematics). I do not know if she is an Aspie herself, but she certainly knows how to portray and entertain us! I would recommend watching The Guild (which is in its 5th season) to anyone who is or loves an Aspie (or who has to interact with us and who would like to get more of an insight into our psyches).
The first season was strictly non-sponsored, made for YouTube. It is so good and has such a following (I suspect that mostly among Aspies)
Here is the first episode of the first season:
Many parents of Aspie kids/teens have asked me if I think it is bad to let them have a lot of online time. I do not.
To the contrary – I think online interactions are an exceptionally useful tools for Aspies (and parents of Aspies) to encourage social growth.
Let’s face it – Aspies mature differently from NT’s (neurotypicals – non-Aspies). In some aspects, we are much more advanced than our NT peers and we find it quite offensive when NT adults treat us as idiots and simplify things to the point of error while talking to us. On the other hand, we are much slower to mature socially – some of us find most social interactions with NTs quite disturbing.
Interaction over the internet is both simpler – the rules are simplified and usually explicitly stated – and more in our control: if we feel a ‘melt down’ or if we want to leave the interaction for any reason, we can simply log off! That is an incredible ‘security blanket’ – being able to remove oneself from a stressful social situation rather than waiting for it to blow up.
When my younger son got a girlfriend (his first) in and MMO RPG, my older son was concerned that this might be wrong or inappropriate for his social development. I explained that I disagreed – his brother was aware that the online persona might hide absolutely anyone, but he was having fun ‘trying out’ flirting in a completely safe environment. When they eventually did ‘break up’, he did not ever have to log onto that particular site again. Ever!
This avoided a lot of awkwardness. Being in the same class/school with his ex and having to interact with her daily would have been extremely stressful and would have stifled his desire to interact with other humans. Like this, it was a perfectly safe (and supervised!) interaction, where he got to practice his social flirting skills without the fear of consequences should he fail.
I see that as a win-win!