Hack #51: Learn an Artificial Language
Since the language you speak influences your thoughts, speak some unusual languages and open your mind to unusual thoughts.
Additions and Suggestions
As an alternative to artificial languages, there is a massive diversity of natural languages, many of which are very different to English. These may again help open the mind and help think in different ways, in a similar way to conlangs. They have obvious other benefits, in that they generally have many more speakers and a much richer literature and culture than conlangs.
The most commonly learned languages for English speakers tend to be other western European languages like Spanish, French and German. In many ways, these are not all that different to English, so may not really open up to new thoughts in the way that we are looking for with this hack. Here are some suggestions for natural languages that are widely spoken and interesting from a mind hacks point of view.
- Indonesian. This is a really easy language, with simple and regular vocabulary, grammar, spelling and pronounciation. Arguably it's not that much harder to learn than, say, Esperanto, and has the advantage that it has hundreds of millions of speakers you can talk to. It has a number of quirky, but nonetheless simple, features. For example, plurals are formed by repeating a word (e.g. person: "orang", people: "orang orang").
- Russian. This is an example of a language with complicated grammatical rules, which are nonetheless mostly regular and elegant. It used to be that Latin was widely taught in the belief that learning Latin grammar was good mental exercise and helped in learning English grammar. While Latin is a dead language, Russian provides a modern, widely spoken alternative.
- Chinese. In many ways a simple and logical language, with straightforward grammatical rules. It has a very small vocabulary of fundamental one syllable "words", which are combined to form longer words. The writing system, with a different character for each word, is a major challenge. From a mind hacks point of view, the mnemonic aspects of chinese characters are interesting. Ask a Chinese speaker about the character for a Chinese word, and they will usually be able to tell you a story about what each part of the character represents - for example, one part might represent a tree, river, hand or insect. These visual images help remember the characters, and may also be helpful in memorising chinese texts - unlike speakers of other languages, the chinese have a ready-made memory image for each word.
Freeform discussion of this hack goes here.
The URL listed for "Learn more about Solresol" in the printed book is incorrect. The URL above is correct.
Return to Main Book Page
This is a page for a hack from the book MindPerformanceHacks by Ron Hale-Evans.