The tip of my tongue

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Keep note of persons stammering for a word. Quite often, the word they will offer (in proportion to the frequency of such words in spoken English generally) begins with the letter "a" or another soft vowel.

This preponderance arises, I believe, from the sound of hesitation or realization (such as "uh" or "ah") preceding the uttered word, or that fact that the letter "a" starts for many an alphabetic word search. Do you think this reasoning sound?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Most commonly when we open our mouth we have not planned exactly what we will say. The fact that we can successfully speak this way (IMO) supports the idea that we do not have free will, and that we are all deterministic actors*.

I have never observed the phenomenon you describe:

Quite often, the word they will offer (in proportion to the frequency of such words in spoken English generally) begins with the letter "a" or another soft vowel.
But I like your conclusion, in my world view I see it as causing "determinism problems", a phrase I use to mean that our mind is not in harmony with out actions.

*Leaving aside metaphysical free will, I think we all accept that (at least part of the time) we speak on autopilot in an ordinary sense, much like replaying a record.
 
  • #3
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Loren Booda,

If I understand you correctly, the person utters the vowel sound 'uh' or 'ah' and then utters a word beginning with the same sound. If so, then I would venture that it's a matter of association. The brain scrolls through words that begin with the same sound and selects one. Kind of like typing one letter in the google search box and all the searches beginning with that letter drop down.

Try it yourself with different sounds and see what your brain does. For me, more words come to mind when I utter and hold a vowel sound than a consonant.

In other words, yes, I think your reasoning is sound.
 
  • #4
Math Is Hard
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Tip of the Tongue phenomenon is studied extensively in cognitive psychology. One of the predominant theories is that during the mental search process, you accidentally locate an incorrect (but related) word, and this suppresses all the other related words that are nearby in the semantic network. This causes difficulty and delay in eventually reaching the correct target word.
What's interesting is that in studies, many people experiencing TOT are very good at identifying attributes of the word they cannot locate (i.e., number of syllables, first and last letters). I've got a good paper on this I'll try to dig up for you, Loren. I think you would enjoy it.
 
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  • #5
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Th-th-th-thanks for y-y-y-your contributions, good people.
 
  • #6
Math Is Hard
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Hey Loren, PM me an email address and I'll send you that TOT paper.
 
  • #7
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Thanks, Math is Hard.

Could you give me a link or other means of accessing the paper, as I am totally ignorant about instant messaging. How "dumb" of me.:tongue:

-Loren
 

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