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    Re: language and spatio-temporal orientation
    From: Peter Hakel
    Date: 2010 Jul 26, 12:01 -0700
    Very interesting as it reminds me of trying to give/receive driving directions.

    In Slovakia you would specify the road to be taken either by the type of turn (right, left) or a by a well-known place along that road.  You can therefore say: "take the turn toward Bratislava" even though that may not be your destination at all.  Never by the cardinal directions, that is something I encountered only in the US, came to like and use.  Interestingly enough my American-born wife does not care for the "cardinal" system and demands "left/right/straight" type of directions.

    Perhaps the grid-like arrangement of many American towns and cities, the interstate highway system, and the pioneer history of America have all contributed to that.  You go west along the Oregon trail, not toward Portland, OR; after all, there is no such place yet.  This reminds me of an old Russian joke, which goes something like this:
    Q: "How do you get to <insert a place in Siberia>?"
    A: "From Kazan you go east for a month and then you turn left."


    Peter Hakel



    From: Patrick Goold <goold@vwc.edu>
    To: navlist <navlist@fer3.com>
    Sent: Mon, July 26, 2010 8:12:09 AM
    Subject: [NavList] Re: language and spatio-temporal orientation


    My interest was piqued  by the specific claim that speakers of languages that use cardinal directions rather than relative direction terms "are remarkably good at staying oriented and keeping track of where they are, even in unfamiliar landscapes. They perform navigational feats scientists once thought were beyond human capabilities."  It suggested to me a discipline I might impose on myself privately.  Since English has several vocabularies for  direction terms, I could choose to think like a Pormpuraaw as much as possible:  "'Honey, have you seen my car keys?' "Yes, they are on the counter NNE of the kitchen sink.'" The goal would be to improve my sense of orientation in the larger environment.  If it worked, it wouldn't support the 'language precedes thought' thesis.  It might only aid attention to features antecedently available to thought.  But it would be useful to me either way.

    [rest deleted by PH]

       
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