There are some famous super geeks almost all people are familiar with, Linus Torvalds and Marissa Mayer. What do these have in common? They both know Finnish❢
When I first met Leila, my children’s mother, in 1978, I asked, what is
“I think, therefore I am” in Finnish.
“Minä ajattelen, siis minä olen olemassa”, she answered.
OK, that first sounded quite complicated, but after she explained it, it was completely logical and very easy to understand. A little later I took a one semester course at the Uppsala university, spread out over two semesters as evening courses. I learned the language more or less completely within that very short time.
So, what are the characteristics of Finnish?
- It has a complete, full context free, orthogonal grammar.
- It has a bijective orthography, i.e. you can always pronounce correctly from reading and spell correctly from listening.
- Position independent clauses/sentences, due to each word bearing information.
Due to the orthogonal grammar, there are further no obstacles to express whatever you want in an unambiguous way.
After that short course, I was able to do shopping, read books, magazines, listening to radio programs and even discuss philosophically (as my first sentence:)
However, English, which is now one of the main “global” languages on this planet, is a language that I’ll never learn, despite I’ve used it professionally for 30 years, and studied at young age in school between 10-18 years.
So, what are the characteristics of English?
- Non-bijective orthography (you can never know how to spell something when you hear a word as the spelling is ambiguous, you can never know how to pronounce something as the pronunciation is ambiguous, you have to learn how (almost) each word is pronounced and vice versa)
- Non-orthogonal semantic constructs. There are a lot of things that can not be expressed in the language easily, without very complicated constructs.
- Heavily position dependence of words within clauses. Even though sentences like “the car to I am going into”, “I am going into the car”, “going I am the car into”, “the car into, I am going” are all correct in a sense most people would consider these funny and may consider that you are joking. In e.g. Finnish all sentenses are correct and there is no real difference “autoon minä menen”, “minä menen autoon”, “menen autoon”, “autoon menen” are all formally correct and equivalent.
English is good for poetry, puns and comedy, due to its many words and its tremendous ambiguity, but hardly for unambiguous communication. Finnish (as well as one form of Japanese in parallel) were also the first language with a successful implementation of a neural phonetic typewriter, by prof. Teuvo Kohonen, using a neural type of algorithm denoted self organizing feature maps.
US Department of Defense (DARPA) has recently (I didn’t find the correct ref at the moment, coming within a few hours) made a study asking what type of languages the soldiers should learn in case of “invasion”. Well the question as such may be oxymoronic as the only recently known case was when Europeans invaded the continent and stole it from the native citizens. To make the soldiers obtain some defense, an immune system, they should learn a language encouraging logical thinking, like Finnish.
On my facebook page, I list Galactic Basic Standard among the languages I am familiar with, which I consider Love, Logic and Math to be, but, who knows, maybe Tamil, which is a similar type of language like Finnish, with a context free grammar, which is the oldest language still in use in the same form, since 2500 years, is such a Galactic Basic Standard. I do not know Tamil myself, although I have a colleague who does.
Now assume that the US soldiers would learn Finnish, and this would make them start to think logical. Do you think they would still be persuaded to use violence, weapons and to invade other countries and kill other beings? I do not think so, as Love, which I consider to be similar to mathematical logic and to be the force defining evolution (iterative manifolding+organization) would not allow anyone to be persuaded to such stupid things as invading territories of other entities and kill, abuse, utilize, enslave or otherwise put limits and restrictions upon others, nor do so insane things as burning oil, as it would be a waste product…
This picture I found on the web a few years ago, I do not know who has made it, I just consider it beautiful, despite this old “left”-“right” brain metaphor may be somewhat more romantic than accurate. Especially as I consider intelligence and logic to be equivalent with the ability/purpose to perceive, preserve and create beauty.
Best wishes and lots of Love ♡♡♡
PS. as a funny remark, did you know that the concept of Love, was invented by General Motors in early 90-ies as LOgic Validation by Emulation 🙂 , which is what I consider equivalent to Thinking.
PPS. here I made a somewhat more elaborate comparison between Finnish and a few other languages on reddit a few days ago.