Think in Color

Sophia Carey

By: Sophia Carey 

Last summer, I spent a few months in Argentina trying to learn Spanish, immerse in the culture, and reconnect with some old friends.  I struggled learning Spanish a lot, and found myself going on long walks talking in my head in my two mother tongues (Japanese and English) and mixing them with Spanish to try to grasp the grammar of the foreign language.

As I was doing this while walking to a Friday night vespers, I crossed the street when the man directing traffic motioned me across.  I smiled and had the thought to say a simple “thank you” but instead, I confidently delivered a line of complete gibberish. It wasn’t even a mix of anything I had ever heard in my life, just nonsense.

I immediately noticed what I had done and kept walking, embarrassed, but at the same time, thrilled that something had slipped from my mind in what I believe was closest to its purest form: an idea not filtered through a language screen.

In my moment of thankfulness to the man directing traffic, I had vocalized my thoughts before it could be translated into a language.

Once I had come to the conclusion that thoughts (ideas and concepts) were created with words, it completely changed my outlook on language in general.   Connections can be made between different language speakers because images, shapes, and emotions are the things that piece human thoughts together. We think in color. Language is a tool used to convey what might be in our brain, and so it’s hard to truly visualize what another person may be thinking.

My trip to Argentina helped me understand the importance of language, as well as the infinite complexity of the human thought process.