Synaesthesia Discovery

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Graphemes to Touch Synaesthesia, Languages and Inventions

image “Mummy, I have just invented a new language.” Skye whispered quietly in my ear. He could not conceal his excitement.

It was a cold Saturday morning three years ago. Skye had just woken up, and was lying in his bed with his big green eyes staring at me when I was told his new secret. In my entire life, I had never met anyone who invented a language, let alone understood what that meant.

From that day, this new language, which is passionately called Gahooulian by my children, became part of our life. It is one of the hallmarks of Skye’s creations. Skye invented this language when he just turned seven. That was way before he started learning Chinese reading and writing, or watching Star Trek.

The process began with his creation of the spoken language, very quickly the alphabet of Gahooulian was defined. The alphabet is made up of 27 letters, similar to the English alphabet, but with an extra letter looks like an ‘h’ with a small line at the top left, and pronounced as ‘florp’. It is an important letter in Gahooulian as no word in this language contains double letters such as “ee” or “oo”, instead, this extra letter is used in lieu.

The written language started evolving, followed by the creation of the alphabet. Gahooulian has two different ways of writing. One is similar to English, but the other is formed by symbols and shapes. Letter “Y” is an octagon in Gahooulian, and is the most unique letter. “O” is the most common letter and is represented in a long vertical line. The attachment shows how some colours (kelearc) and numbers (manborc) are written in Gahooulian in both written systems.

Skye has Grapheme -> Colour/Sound/Taste/Touch/Temperature/Shape Synaesthesia as well as weak Grapheme -> Odor Synaesthesia in Gahooulian, Chinese and English. He used to have strong synaesthesia in Indonesian, a language he has been learning at school as a foreign language. But after one year of studying Indonesian, he got so bored that he lost the interest in it. The direct effect was the weakening of synaesthesia in Indonesian except Grapheme -> Colour/Sound. Next year, he will be moving to another school where he will be taught Japanese and later French or German. It will be interesting to see the development of his synaesthesia throughout the learning of those new languages.

The focus for this blog is his Grapheme to Touch Synaesthesia which is considered as one of the rarest forms of synaesthesia.

For Skye, English letters, Chinese characters, and numbers can evoke touch sensation. He often sees number “4″ in an ice cube. This number gives him a feel of an ice cube slipping on his hand and his foot. “Alt” triggers off a feel of two to three ants crawling across his finger tip. “Tho” gives a rise of touching a digital camera or any electronic device. Chinese character Zui “最”, which means the most, is a hard character to write for a young boy. When he thinks about this character, he feels someone patting on his shoulder as if that person was wishing him good luck. He enjoys this type of synaesthetic experience immensely.

When it comes to his own Gahooulian language, the enjoyment of touch is again double folded.

The Gahooulian symbol of zero (xore) makes his fingers feel the gravity.

At the sight of the written symbol of colour yellow, he senses an invisible motion putting an invisible glasses on his eyes. “Oh, my eyes sting.” Skye exclaimed when he was explaining to me his touch sensation. The extra letter sounding like Florp is shown as the 2nd letter of Gahooulian yellow.

The written symbol of Gahooulian colour Black elicits a soft feel of 1960′s nature whereas the smoothness of texture and feeling the touch of white chocolate or paint of symbol White remind him of Chinese.

The symbol Green gives him a feel of touching a pear as this character looks similar to the Chinese character 果 which means fruit.

The colour Indigo (myge) triggers a feel of a machine running through and putting a diamond on top of the octagon. The written symbol of 9 gives him a feel of standing in front of a lamp post and hearing a lamp turning on and off.

I appreciate more and more that life with such an intensive and joyful experience is truly a blessing.

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