…I mean it literally.
Bear with me, because this is going to be super-hard to explain. I wouldn’t have even noticed anything unusual if I hadn’t been reading Oliver Sacks between neuroscience classes. However, I’ve come to realize that the way I perceive words–and this has nothing to do with language–has a significant impact on my word choice. (Also, from studying for the GRE, it screws with my ability to memorize meanings when two words sound/feel the same but have nothing otherwise in common. Not that I didn’t do well, but still aaargh.)
Anyway, I ‘feel’ words. A more accurate way of putting it would be that the same sensory neurons which fire when I look at objects in the real world fire when I read text, think about words, or use numbers. So…I see words? Jeez. The point is, they occupy three-dimensional space.
Normally, I wouldn’t bring this up at all. It’s really, really hard to explain clearly, especially since I wasn’t aware of it for a long time, but it does have an impact on my writing style. There are words I gravitate to–given so many options in English, I’ll favor one just because it ‘feels’ better. I think it’s going too far to say I’d avoid writers or words entirely because of this, but I suspect the subconscious impact is stronger than I realize. Only further study will tell.
Also, source-wise…maybe it’s because I learned to read when I was really little? Or some screwup in part due to the fact that females have better developed language areas? I wonder if I can get an fMRI. For science!
So tell me, what’s it like when the words on the page stay on the page?