relative direction

We have spent a lot of time on faceblindness lately. I know. I know. It still blows my mind. There are other problems people have. One is a problem knowing right from left consistently. I have this. If someone says turn right, I have to physically lift up my hands and say, "right, left." Then I remember.

The other relative directions are: up, down, forward, and backwards.

Some cultures use relative directions, and some use cardinal (absolute) directions, like north, south, east, and west. (I wonder where that leaves up and down?)

The Economist has covered this topic in a few articles, one of which can be found here: Article 1.

I have also read, and I don't remember where, that women and men tell directions differently. Women tend to use landmarks more while men use streets more.

"Go down to the Stop and Shop, then turn there towards the McDonalds. Drive until you go past the blue house and our house is the next green house with a walnut tree in front."

"Go down to the next light, go right. Then drive to the address 6377. That's our house."

These directions could essentially get you to the same place, but sound completely different. I feel this demonstrates one of the difficulties in communication in heterosexual relationships: we conceive of the world differently. (Query whether homosexual relationships have the same issues. I don't know.)

The New York Times magazine ran a long magazine article about whether language shapes how people think. (click here to read it)

I believe language does shape how we think. We just listened to another mindblowing Radiolab about language. In that article, one theorist posits that until we acquire language, we can't think. We can't think. Think about that. The show also has a story about a man who does not have language at age 27. (I told this to someone and they brought up the "your ability to acquire language ends at a certain age." I have heard that but that was not the case here. I don't know why. Maybe Claudia could weigh in on this?)

Speaking of Claudia, in German I am a whole different person. I am cuter. I am less direct. I swear a lot less. Isn't that strange? Does anyone else have a different personality in a different language? Katerina? I bet you are different in Greek v. German v. English v. French, but I don't know for sure. Marika? Hai? Laura?

Listen to the radio lab below:

1 comment:

Katerina said...

Yeah, I agree, I think differently in English than I do in German, than I do in Greek. I don't know if I have a different personality, but there is certainly a different focus in my expression, and different structure to my thinking. I guess it makes sense, you can't think without words after all... And you can't structure a complex thought without using the tools that each specific language gives you.