Friday, July 28, 2006

A few of my favourite words

Some words are really beautiful to me, particularly nouns such as teapot and buttercup. I think in the above two examples it's because the first and last letter/sound in each word is identical or near-identical. I also like it when tall letters - like b, d, h and l - occur in the middle of a word: ode, shy, polio etc. There are even words that look like the things they describe, such as dog (imagine the d as a face and ear and the g as a tail) and look (where the two successive o's remind me of a pair of eyes). Because of the way I experience words in different colours and textures I especially like it when a word's colour matches the object it describes: raspberry is a red word for a red thing, while tan is an orange word for something that often is that colour.


Anonymous said...

Hey Daniel,

I saw Brainman on tv the other day and i found you to be such an amazing person but anyways the question i have for you is do you consider people of average intelligence to be dumb?

Anonymous said...

You have explained in your book how language originally developed in a way where sibilence often conveyed the meaning of words.

All genuine writers have a fetishistic addiction to words, they are their friends.

Daniel Tammet said...

I don't consider anyone 'dumb' - each person is unique and has his or her own gift to share with the world.

Miinx said...

Hi Daniel,

I have always loved the word Shropshire, from the Importance of Being Earnest. I love the way SHR moves through my mouth.

I also love Thistlethwaite, the name of a street I used to live in. Guess I have a thing for tongue twisters, to some degree.

Really enjoying reading about you, your thoughts & your amazing mind, thank you.


The Birdman said...

Hi Daniel,

It's nice to "meet" you.

I hope you pick up this response to a slightly out of date post.

I saw you on TV last night on one of the documentary channels - the programme where you visited Kim Peek.

I find "unusual" mental powers fascinating, although I don't appear to have any myself... well none that I have harnessed any way.

I found your description of numbers interesting as I also am fascinated by synaesthesia. I am by no means an expert, but from what I have seen on television about synaesthesia, you seem to be much more in tune with it - at least in terms of numbers - than others. You seem to interact, rather than just react.

(Perhaps I am doing others a disservice?!)

On a more broad level, I have always believed that the brain was capable of amazing things, things that perhaps would even today be regarded as paranormal.

For example, I think anyone would accept that one can react physiologically to another persons heightened emotions... so why not to some intellectual "emission", as it were (it would take a lot more space than this to get across exactly what I mean!).

Anyway, back to reality, thanks for something as simple as making me look at dog differently.

Out of interest, I guess people must have beautiful names too?

Anonymous said...

Greetings, Daniel.

I was thrilled to read about you for the first time in a scientific article and find that you are a synesthete. My husband is one also, to some degree - he experiences words as smells, tastes, and colors.

You said in an interview that numbers are your friends. I don't find this idea silly at all. Like everything else in existence, they are comprised of pure energy. And since energy responds to energy, I see no reason why numbers should not be as receptive to affection as, for example, your pets, siblings, significant other, parents, etc.

It pleases me a great deal that you're using your unique state of existence to benefit others. If more people did what you're doing, the world would be a much happier place.

Daniel Tammet said...

Names certainly can be beautiful - Robert is a red name, while Julie is a yellow one and Lauren is blue. I like how my name has tall letters at either end - d and l.

Anonymous said...

build, with the b and d facing in on either side, is a fortified word, and has a sound that steadily carries through in between.

build me up buttercup.

i could point out other contrasts/correlations between "build me up" and "buttercup."

i am not autistic (though my parents thought i was for a few years) and i sadly do not experience words as vividly as you do, but this sort of talk has always made sense to me.

if you have some free time, you might enjoy this site for the same reasons I do:

Riced Out Yugo

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel,

I came to your site when trying to find out more information about Aspergers, then realised who you were.

Introductions aside - I wish I could describe why I like certain words as clearly as you seem able to. I can do it from time to time, sometimes by accident but if I want to explore it it feels to me as though I have to 'feel' my way to identifying something.

My favourite thing is when it is someone's personality that seems to have textures and colours.

Anonymous said...

Hello Daniel -

My mom was listening to NPR earlier today when I came into the house after a run in the snow with my dog, and I caught you talking about the number 1 burning brightly like a flashlight in your eye. I was completely compelled to stay and listen to more, so I did, then ran upstairs the moment you said you had a website.

I've tremendously enjoyed hearing and reading everything you've had to say so far, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of your book (I'm in the US, so it's sort of new, I guess). I came across this post of yours and just wanted to say one thing - I've always had a love for the words "buttercup" and "teapot" myself, though not at all for the aesthetic or lingual reasons that you are so in tune with. For me, it's more of a feeling that they give me - a sort of comfort and warmth, and I often bunch them with words like "dust" and "windowsill," (those are not great examples; there are so many more that I just can't think of right now) and not because of any specific similarities, but because they are part of a certain theme and in my mind, belong huddled next to each other.

If I can embellish this any's like, when I think these words, when I see them, I think of cozy and quiet Sunday afternoons, of piles of leather-bound books waiting to be read, of peeling paint or slight cracks in the walls of a home that give it that much more beauty and that much more loveliness. I don't know, I'm not nearly as good as sharing these things are you are, but I know that words like those that give me feelings like those are always ones I run back to, always words that I am eager to grasp and make my own.

I think you'll be hearing some more from me, if you don't mind.

Anonymous said...

Hello Daniel,

You truly are facinating. I am in constant pursuit of enhancing my knowledge just for the fun of it. If you wouldn't mind answering just a couple of questions, that would just make my year.

Is there a number/word that is terrifying to you?

What do dead languages look like to you, such as Hieroglyphics?

Please forgive me if I have offended you in any way.

Thanks and have a cool day

-Fred Roque

Anonymous said...

Daniel, there are a lot of people in society who relate to your associating words with things that they describe. When I learned to write, I put motion marks by the g at the end of dog to show that the tail was wagging, and I also added pupils, eyelids, and eyelashes to my o's in look.

I like raspberry and tan for that reason too.

I sometimes associate school courses with particular colors, and I don't like it when the color of my binder is not the color of the course or at least very close to the color on the color wheel. The current Spanish class that I am in is orange (colors are not always consistant with subject. Colors will vary from envrionment to environment). English is blue (always but in different shades depending on the type of literature being studied each year). Environmental Science is blue-green.

Anonymous said...

Hej Daniel!
Jag undrar om du har något favorit ord på Svenska?

Vilka fantastiska gåvor du fått.


Lanelle said...

Hi Daniel.

I read your article in New Scientist and was thoroughly fascinated about the way you describe the way you see things.

Whilst I am not autistic or someone who has synaesthesia, I do suffer from anxiety and when I was younger did undergo psychological testing, which found me to have superior visual cognition.

I guess it shows in my chosen path as an artist and photographer and my love of colour.

But this entry in particular makes me excited because I too love similar kinds of words and see words like.. well, llama as representing the actual creature. When I was younger I also had this manic fascination with learning the names of colours beyond your yellow, red and blue into butterscotch, crimson and cornflower. Another beautiful word for me, cornflower.

I will continue to read your excellently enunciated thoughts, in particular when I study "Special Education" as part of my teaching degree this semester.

Thank you again. You're absolutely incredible.