Thursday, August 26, 2004

language and thinking and writing and speaking

There is something wrong with my speech center, I'm sure. Whether it's the ADD or some other neurological dysfunction, I lose track of what I'm saying, or forget the word I'm supposed to use, right in the middle of a sentence. It's one of the reasons I prefer to express myself in writing. A) I have time to edit before anyone gets to see it, and b) I don't lock up quite so much.

In any case, my lack of ability to finish a sentence sometimes drives my friends crazy. Actually, it just sometimes drives my boyfriend crazy. Most of my friends know me well enough to just know where I'm headed and finish the sentence in their heads for me, which is a great time saver, but my boyfriend just sits there and waits and looks at me like I should be put away, either deliberately not following me, and wanting me to work for it, like I'm just being lazy, or unintentionally missing the rest of my communication efforts that are not currently involving my vocal cords. Sometimes I think it's because he's in a cranky mood and wants to make me cranky with him that he does it. Sometimes I think that he just doesn't read my mind like other people do. I think I depend on that a lot for communication...

(Oh. I need to note that it's entirely possible that my other friends may be just as irritated by my lack of sentence finishing, but they're too polite to say anything... I tend to think of it as a charming eccentricity, but I'm biased...)

I mean, verbal language is just one very specific tool that we use to communicate, and unfortunately for me, my brain sometimes loses pieces of it in much the same way that my socket wrench set is scattered throughout my garage. I can be trying to say something very important, and get stuck, and have to say, " know... Noun. Something. You know. Anyway..." and then I stare into space for a few seconds before I am brave enough to go on to the next sentence, hoping my audience has just simply followed me blindly assuming all will be revealed by the end of the verbal paragraph.

Language is just not a tool my mouth is very good with. [ed. note: I realize that this is a huge opening for many of my friends/readers... keep it to yourselves...]

My fingers, on the other hand, have a much better grip on it. At a keyboard, I don't forget words, and if I do, it's just part of the equation to hit a few buttons and end up at an online thesaurus, and jog my memory quickly and efficiently and barely lose a beat. At a keyboard, I can keep whole thoughts in my head after thinking them and while expressing them. I can continue typing about one thing while my head is off making connections to something else completely. It's like my visual brain is allowed to function independently when I'm communicating with my hands, but when I'm talking, it has to timeshare.

It's a drag.

And you know, now that I'm thinking about it, I think I have the same problem with language input. I read visual clues, and body language, pick up on incidental data, and to me, that forms a broader picture of a conversation. Can I quote people? Hell no. I can't remember specifically what someone said to me 5 seconds ago. But I can probably tell you what they were feeling in a general way, and give you a decent paraphrase of conversations I've had years ago.

Writing is just different for me. I think when I write. Actually, what I mean is that I think *better* when I write. By the end of this post, I will have a much clearer understanding of the specific point I really wanted to make in the first place, and I will go back and edit the whole of the contents to make it seem like it clearly and efficiently led up to that point.

I can't do that with verbal language. My arguments are not preformed, just sitting there in the verbal part of my cortex, just waiting for an opening. My thoughts are pieced together word by word, pretty much as they're coming out of my mouth. It's actually not quite *that* bad. I have some editing capability. But my verbal buffer only holds about 128 characters. I'd need a conversational buffer of about a gig to, say, bring a morale problem to my boss. I'd need a terabyte buffer to have an argument on the phone with my ex-husband. (He can out-talk me, but I can out-write him, so on a multi-media playing field, we're evenly matched. Luckily, we don't argue all that often anymore, 'cos it's tiring...)

So, instead, I opt to write. I write, I think, I edit, I rewrite and then, eventually, I communicate.

Meanwhile, I still have to have conversations with my boyfriend, and when that happens

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