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Why do you ever keep the words on the "tip of the tongue" and how to prevent it?

"What is his name? I swear I have it on my tongue."

Has it ever occurred to you that you wanted to say a word or name a man and you could not do it?

You had it on the tip of your tongue, and you ended up feeling frustrated and emptiness.

Well, do not worry first.

We were all victims of the phenomenon Language Type (PDL) – Yes, science said it – and we'll be back again.

Why is this happening? Who has the most influence?

Universal phenomenon

Photos of many people.

The Language Speech Phenomenon will become all of us. Yes, everyone. Getty Images

There is something special about the phenomenon of Punta De la Lengua and that is does not discriminate.

"This is universal and it will happen to all speakers of different languages, not only Spanish, but also English, Hebrew, French, etc. It is a people of different age groups, from children to older adults, "says Lise Adams, professor of language and cognitive sciences at Pomona College, California, United States.

And it is not just a phenomenon that happens in the oral languages. It also happens to people who speak sign languages, this phenomenon is called Toe finger (TOF, acronym in English).

What's happening in our brain?

The child thinks.

He must create an activation process in the brain to speak the word we want. Getty Images

People need access to certain sounds to pronounce words.

For various reasons, access to these sounds is weakened or interrupted. Then we can not get them when we need them.

"On the one hand, we can speak of parts of knowledge (semantic), we know that we know this word, we have certainty, and on the other hand linguistically (phonologically). incomplete phonological activation occurs in the presence of complete semantic activation"Explains David Facal, a professor at the Department of Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

"Sometimes we know the first letter, syllable, but we are not able to fully recover the word," says BBC Mundo.

"Since this is a broken idea and we stay there, in the middle of this idea, it's also a window to know how we think, and that's why the phenomenon was interested in the nineteenth century," adds Facal.

A brain activation transfer pattern.


Note on the chart: "People we represent names (and other words) on several levels: what it means (semantics), how they sound (phonology) and how they look (visual concepts). Dotted lines represent the site of the recovery process words may be interrupted due toirregular or recent use, which reduces transmission over these connections E prevents the name from being restored or word, Names own they haveto the peculiarity other since the system may decompose in the middle of each component: name or surname, another reason why more episodes of PDL can arise in their own names in relation to other words, "explains Adams.

Why is it hapenning?

People with stressful faces of emoji, angry,

Some theories say that the Tip of Language phenomenon occurs more often in stressed people or in moments of anxiety. Getty Images

There are several hypotheses, although there is no certainty as to what exactly causes the PDL phenomenon.

"Fatigue, fatigue, age and cognitive impairment at some point it causes one of the sounds of the word not to be activated, then the complete lexical form of the word can not be pronounced, "reveals Facal.

Adams, however, states that there is no relevant data to support this idea.

"We have researched and what we have found out that the relationship between the episodes of Punta de la Lengua and the moments of anxiety or stress change based on age"He says.

Thoughtful couple

Experts say that after 60 years, PDL episodes may be more frequent. Getty Images

According to Adams, in studies he conducted with colleagues, older adults reported episodes of PDL in anxiety. But middle-aged adults who were also exposed to stressful situations had fewer episodes of PDL.

"So maybe such a situation of excitement in some people can be a good thing to revive" words that can not be spoken, expert analysis.

Although he warns that "there is still much to explore in terms of emotional factors which can play a role in the Language Tip phenomenon. "

Own names

Own names in your post.

Getty Images

For experts consulted by BBC World, the phenomenon of PDL is becoming more common own names

Basically, because there is no other possible word that would define this person, we have in mind.

"Take Antonio Banderas as an example, we know he's an actor, he's Spanish, he's in Hollywood, he's brown, and everyone is gathered in the name of Banderas," says Facal.

"However, if we are unable to activate the symptoms, we can not look for a synonymThen we will hold that feeling of anger at the tip of the tongue. "

However, "if we want to say the word red and it does not work out, we can say it is red, it's the color of the tomato, etc.", he explains.

Who will happen more?

Girl with blackboard with the word good day in several languages.

Bilingual people are probably suffering from the Punta de la Lengua phenomenon. Getty Images

Studies have shown so far People older than 60 years with normal cognitive aging more likely to suffer PDL episodes.

Also those who speak two or more languages.

"When bilingual personsBecause they have access to two groups of sound types, they use sounds in both languages ​​less often than one language uses only one. And this reduction in use can weaken access to the sounds you need to speak, "says Adams.

Both experts believe that because of the elderly there is a more frequent episode of PDL. And that's what we do not normally use.

The alarm signal will appear when there is a problem in making very frequent or frequent words, like everyday items. "This could mean something that is not normal," warns the professor of language and cognitive science.

PDL associated with dementia?

Man talking on the phone while pointing at his tongue.

Experts say PDL is not related to dementia. Getty Images

Specialists it throws it away.

"According to what we have found, the frequency of the Punta de la Lengua phenomenon is quite independent of the capacities of working memory," emphasizes Facal University in Santiago de Compostela.

"What happens with dementias, such as Alzheimer's disease, is that it not only changes the lexical approach but also changes the knowledge of words," he explains.

However, "yes, we found relationship with processing speed"Response rate on stimuli would be positively linked to the frequency of Punta de la Lengua phenomena," he explains.

How to prevent it?

A woman with her tongue has a pile of books on her head.

Maintaining active intellectual life reduces the occurrence of Punta De la Lengua. Getty Images

Read, read and read.

This is the main recommendation of the experts.

"You must have life intellectually active, talk a lot, read a lot, write and maintain control over cardiovascular risk factors such as physical exercise and a healthy lifestyle, "says Facal.

While the recommendation for people with normal cognitive aging is to focus on semantic activation.

For example, Do not interrupt the conversation because the word does not followContinue the conversations and provide further examples and word properties until they appear.

Or, "if you know that certain names cause you problems that you remember, try to use them more often in an interview. You will probably stop episodes of Punta De la Lengua," Adams recommends.

"There is nothing to worry about, most people suffer, it is even healthy and normal, and it will happen to you during your lifetime", concludes Adams.

This article is part of the digital version of the Hay Festival Cartagena, a meeting of writers and thinkers taking place in this city Colombian between January 31 and 3 from February of 2019,

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