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Comment on Stuck in the Neolithic

carel Wed, Jan 7, 2009
While I am still cogitating on an answer to the various comments on language and perception, I would like to draw your attention to a New Scientist interview with Daniel Tammet, an Asperger's savant, who has created his own language:
"You have created your own language. Why?

My language - called Mänti - is about my love of words. If you have that relationship with words, you will always want to express yourself but not be able to find the word in your native language. I speak many languages and I still can't always find the right sentence in any language. Mänti is about having that freedom to play with language, to see what would happen if I had a word for this or that.

What can you say in Mänti that you can't say in any other language?

I like the word "kellokult", which means "clock debt". It's a way of emphasising that when you are late for something, it incurs a debt, you owe someone that time. There is also "rupuaigu", which means "bread time". It's a period of time, roughly an hour, that is the time it would take for bread to bake in an oven. What I like is that it is the same for everyone in the world. It's a more intuitive way of thinking about an hour."

Reading this does not shed much more light on our relationship with language, but maybe it sheds some light on autism, asperger's and a "normal" mind. Maybe, from the point of view of a hunter/gatherer, all modern humans could be perceived as autistic. We have become seriously handicapped in our ability to relate to our environment because of our dependence on symbolic representation and thought.

Carel