Associative memory

Mental Graph

One thing that makes communication very difficult is that people have very different thought processes. Any explanation or logical argument can be undermined because the though train of the two persons involved in the discussion have followed different tracks. While I would not describe myself as an illogical person, my though processes tend to be very associative: I have very bad memory and I remember everything by association, so my mind wanders along the connections on my memory graph.

One example of how this works is the graph around the word apple. For many english words with germanic roots, I don’t remember them as separate words, but more like variants of their german counterpart, in this case Apfel, from there you get to the north-german word Apfelsine which is not an apple, but an orange, and was originally an apple from China. Orange is a good word because it is used in many languages, French, German (in the south) and English, the word stays similar in japanese: オレンジ (ORENJI).

The word for Apple in French is pomme, there is a similar word in Italian: pomo, which is not used for apples, the word is mela, which stems from malus, which is apple in Latin, but also means bad (like malus/bonus). From there you hit the whole evil fruit thing with Adam and Eve. If you backtrack to pomo, there is a derived word which basically means apple of gold: Pomodoro, a tomato.

Apple is the name of a record-label, who publishes the music of the Beatles: Apple-records. The beater of the Beatles is Ringo Starr, interestingly, apple in Japanese is said リンゴ (RINGO). This is probably not a coincidence, given the presence of 洋子 小野 (Yoko Ono) around the Beatles. In the Kanji (YO) means ocean, but is also used to designate western related things, like culture or food. That kanji is build-up from the water radical (⺡) and the kanji for goat (羊).

Ringo is usually written in Katakana, the kanji form is 林檎 (リンゴ), the first kanji is 林, which means woods, and is basically tree (木) written twice. (GO) is not used in Japanese, it just means fruit or red apple in Chinese and is pronounced qín.

There is another company called Apple (the two had a lot of fun suing each other), which produces computers, the most known is probably the Macintosh. Interestingly, McIntosh is also a kind of apple. Apple also used to build a PDA called the Newton, named after a physicists who became famous for getting hit by an apple (and some stuff about gravitation and derivation). Nowadays Apple produces a lot of computers in China, but they are not called oranges.

One really weird apple derived word is pineapple, first because these things really don’t look like apples, second because most of the planet agreed to call these things ananas. French has pomme de pin, but those are the cones of the pine trees. In swiss-french these are called pives.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.