Helo! Are there any other synaesthetes trying to learn Welsh out there? Any type, really! I just thought it’d be interesting to hear if it’s a help or a burden for you when it comes to language learning! For me it’s mostly really helpful. I associate words and sounds with colors and shapes, but it can also get confusing when the meaning of a word doesn’t match the word. I don’t know if this makes any sense what so ever, but please share your experiences with synaesthesia and languages/Welsh in particular, if you have any! I’d really love to hear.
For example this happens in my head: The sound of the word cysgu is black and square, reminding me of a coffin, where you “sleep”. And that’s how I remember the word.
If there aren’t any others, and for people not familiar with it, synaesthesia is a neurological phenomenon where multiple senses get “mixed up”, so you can for example smell colours, hear shapes, or taste words. Among other (weird) things. Perhaps a better explanation here: http://www.uksynaesthesia.com/
Ooh, I’ll be fascinated to see if there’s much response to this - I’ve always had a very, very mild dash of colour with words/letters, and I’ve often thought it would be fun to be able to turn the dial up for a while, to see what it’s like for real synaesthetes (my new favourite word)…
I think synaesthesia is really interesting. Can I ask a question? I know some people with syaesthesia associate numbers with colours, so does anyone have different colours for numbers in different languages? Is the association with the word or the concept is really my question.
I have number form synaesthesia which I suspect has be invaluable in helping me with maths at school and my career in IT. The world of numbers is almost like an actual landscape with larger numbers dissappearing over the horizon, negative numbers sinking underground etc.
I think I might have slight synaesthesia with language too, for example past, present and future sentences are stacked above each other as if on shelves with the past on the lower shelf and the future on the top shelf.
Hi @Ingrid, fellow synesthete here, particularly with relating colours, patterns, shapes and moods to certain words. As I’m not learning Welsh, I’ll follow this thread with interest to see what comes up.
Good question! I had to think about it, actually. For me it’s the word, and not the concept. The colour of the sound of a word and the actual word written down can also be different. It usually is, actually. Like I said, the sound of ‘cysgu’ is black, but when I see the word it’s dark purple. The Norwegian word for sleep, ‘sove’, is blue, but the English ‘sleep’ is black. Confusing!
Haha, well unfortunately I don’t taste words, it was just an example. I think that’s a pretty rare form of synaesthesia. Apparently Tilda Swinton has it, and she says that the word ‘tomato’ tastes of lemonade, and the word ‘word’ makes her think of gravy. It really would be interesting, though, to hear if ‘gair’ (is that right?) makes her think of gravy too, especially if she doesn’t know what it means.
Do you have this with the year as well, @ianblandford? That you “see” them? Like you see the week, or the months of the year in a landscape? Because apparently that’s very common, and I always ask people I know to see if theirs are anything like mine, but they very rarely understand what I’m talking about!
@Mererid, I’d love to hear your experiences with other languages though!
(I keep forgetting I can reply to multiple people in one post, sorry about that )
The days of the week and the months of the year are the same for me in Welsh, English, Italian and French. I think of the days of the week as colours, and I think of months of the year as a kind of curved pattern. I don’t see numbers or letters of the alphabet in colour but they do have personalities (albeit very one-dimensional). This is the same across all languages that use the same script and number system as ours.
The only time I’ve noticed a difference is when I was trying to learn the Arabic alphabet. The letters look and sound quite different to our ABC and this helped me to learn the alphabet as I saw each letter with its own personality trait. Some letters are bossy, some are strong, some are feeble, some are arrogant, some are kind, some are cool, some are wise, some are young, some are old, some are timid and so on. For me, this played a role in helping me to remember the alphabet, especially when reciting out loud.
When it comes to teaching Welsh, especially beginners who need to memorise a lot of vocab, I’ve become more and more aware that my way of thinking, seeing and remembering words and concepts is a bit alien to most of my students. On the other hand, I’m quite quick at thinking of other ways to help students remember vocab that is not so much to do with synaethsesia, but more to do with being creative with words and making connections to ideas and images. This doesn’t work for everyone though. It has been interesting for me to see that some students just don’t make any connections between words and other things, and just see words as words.
I’m in that camp “words are just words”, although I can like or dislike the sound or flow of words, but not in a way that links to clours or smells or other senses etc that have been described. This is a very interesting thread - I had no idea at all about this way of seeing things. I wonder if this is completely inherited or whether some of it is acquired, through the way we learn and our childhood experiences. It is fascinating and amazing to think how differently we’re all wired up.
I think I’m the only one in the family who has aspects of synaesthesia, although I’ll double-check this with everyone later. I don’t have all of the aspects - I don’t have the taste thing. I have the sound to physical feeling thing though, which is a pain as certain sounds actually cause physical pain or a deep discomfort in parts of my body, namely legs, face and of course, ear. I’d never connected this to synaesthesia until recently.
I did read up on this a bit as well and the touch thing and feeling sensations like pain is supposed to be quite rare one isn’t it - mae’n ddiddorol iawn, sut wyt ti’n teimlo pan gwylio ffilm neu storiâu trallodus
This makes a lot of sense. I understand this and in fact do see letters and numbers, in Latin script, as having personalities sometimes, however most of the time I pay no attention to these aspects. From this I can get the idea of these personalities, having a colour too, even if I don’t see it. so, this has helped me kind of get my head around what synaesthesia might be.
I like to think of everything as spectra, rather than back and white. I am heterosexual, but not in a 100% completely way. There a small number of people who are strongly synaesthesic, but most people will have this in a tiny way, that only becomes noticeable if they think about it.
I knew nothing about this until the topic turned up here. It seems very confusing to me, especially having the word tomato taste of lemonade, or indeed, anything except tomato!!
But I was wondering, do accents alter your perceptions? I tend to speak a crazy mix of north and south Welsh, due to spending time lan a lawr and being taught in the south by a gog! BUT, when in the north, I knew I could never sound like that, because northern vowels made me feel as if I was choking!! So if people with different accents all said the same word, would your colour or taste or landscape perceptions change?
This is called associating! There are two forms, mainly, associative and perceptual (I might have gotten these words wrong), but it means that most people, when they for example “see” a colour, only see it with their mind, while some people actually see it with their eyes. Like for me the number 7 is mustard yellow, but I don’t physically see it as yellow. I just know it is. But some actually see it!