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Thinking without language?

Lee Sau Dan ~{ at nJX6X~} sdlee at faith.csis.hku.hk
Mon Nov 22 20:39:09 EST 1999

>>>>> "Larisa" == Larisa Migachyov <lvm at leland.Stanford.EDU> writes:

    Larisa> I remember pi as a melody, where each note signifies a
    Larisa> digit.  So, I have it memorized to 3.1415926535897...
    Larisa> However, when I need to use pi in calculations, I only use
    Larisa> 3.1416.

Yeah, I do it in a similar way.  However, rather than inventing my own
assignment of notes  to the digits, I use  Cantonese tones.  Cantonese
has 9 tones, all  of which occur in the 10 digits.   (So, there is one
repetition.)   That  makes it  a  good  tool  for memorizing  numbers!

Therefore, I  recite the  digits in  pi (and any  phone numbers  of my
friends/relatives) using by their Cantonese sounds.  If you ask me for
these number  in English, I must  hesitate to think  about the numbers
once in Cantonese and then translate them into English.  Similarly, if
you  ask me  for these  number in  Mandarin, I  have to  go  through a
"tranliteration",  which is,  nevertheless, more  straightforward than
English.  (FYI,  phone numbers in HK  are 8 digits  long.)  OTOH, when
you ask  me a general question in  English or Mandarin, I  can make up
the response  immediately in the corresponding  language without going
through any translations in my mind, just like how I do it in my first

Lee Sau Dan                     $(0,X)wAV(B(Big5)                    ~{@nJX6X~}(HZ) 
| http://www.cs.hku.hk/~sdlee                      e-mail: sdlee at csis.hku.hk |

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