language and mind

June 9, 2011

Reading the mind

Filed under: language, language processing — Tags: , — teresapelka @ 10:10 am

Everyone does it, usually without the crystal ball – mind reading. The practice of gazing in crystal, glass, or water might be actually derivative to the fact that you don’t ‘say everything’ when you speak. Imagine you’d need to declare: ‘As you’ve come to see me, entered the room, and sat down, I feel like asking you how you are’. Yeah, instead of the regular and sane ‘How’s things’. ;)

Joan isn’t likely to state ‘I, Joan, say it’s a beautiful day’. Either you know her name or she becomes introduced to you. More, Joan may like to talk a bit figurative. It may be pouring rain. She loves to write hearing the raindrop pitter-patter on the window sill. She even opens her window for it.

Literally reading minds is not possible, fortunately to the world’s economy, peace, and the Earth’s future. ;) Folks tried those stunts in the Antiquity and the Middle Ages, the nimbus of one of the most renowned and tragic examples belonging with the works of the Bard. As for the necessary cognitive progress, the British would have lagged behind the American a little – the last witch trial in Britain was held in 1944! The American hosted the last such intellectually infamous occasion in 1813.

Why isn’t it possible to read brains – everyone’s got more or less similar ‘gears’ in their heads? Human brains obviously grow and develop to a standard. Each brain is individual, however. Memory traces are individual – the way your brain has encoded the shape of the letter ‘A’ for example is going to be different from the way your friend’s brain has it, though you could write it very similar.

In language, mind reading means knowing the context. We could try a simple exercise.

She walks in. Sits on the sofa, arms folded, angry gaze fixed on the carpet.

‘Anything wrong?’ asks her husband. His name is John. Her name is Joan. They live in a lovely suburban cottage. It’s summer, warm and sunny. Their kids are away. They’ve been married for 20 years. John knows Joan. He knows he is in serious trouble.

‘This is the LAST time’, says Joan.


‘This is the last time you’ve used my makeup kit’.

‘I didn’t use yours!’ exclaims John. ;)

(Explanation at the bottom of the page :))

Please feel welcome to see my language wellspring

John uses makeup kits for his model planes. He sometimes mistakes the drawers and ‘snatches’ the disposable kits Joan gets for herself.

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