Saturday 5 August 2017

Every Letter is a Struggle

In 2014 I memorised the alphabet in the following order: RMBEJZWLHOVATFCXNDQKUPYIG.
It took nearly two and a half years before someone noticed I had neglected to include the 's', but that's not important for what I want to say today.

Since Dutch is my mother tongue, I learned this sequence in the Dutch pronunciation of the alphabet. In the past years I've repeated this sequence so many times, out loud and in my head, that it takes almost no effort to drum it up. At least it doesn't with a Dutch pronunciation.
Although I would say I'm near fluent in English and listing the alphabet is no problem, I actually have a lot of difficulty recalling the sequence if I have to do it in with an English inflection. It's not merely that I have to figure out the changing rhythm, I break up the sequence in the same chunks as I do in Dutch, but rather that I can't seem to recall the letters at all. Every letter is a struggle as I have to visualise the sequence in order to find the next letter, while in Dutch it's just one continuous string that comes up effortlessly.
Which seems to suggest that language is stored in the brain firstly on a motor level and a connection to semantics or even simple word-forms are only present through indirect association.