Tag Archives: numbers

What shape is the alphabet?

I am a very visual person. I think in pictures and metaphors and I don’t really grasp complex concepts until I have a picture of them in my head, even if it’s a picture I made up myself. When I was growing up, I thought this was just the way the world was, just like I thought that everyone knew that “C” was female and yellow. Honestly, I’m not sure how common this is, but here is how I visualize various number and cyclical systems:

The Alphabet

Visualization - AlphabetThis is how I picture the alphabet and I’m not sure why. It doesn’t make much sense why it would necessary bend at around “I” and “V” but it does and it always has ever since I was small. Whenever I picture the alphabet, this is what I see in my head.


Visualization - NumbersThis is generally how I picture most numbers. There is a bend at ten and a big one at twenty and then at 100. The problem with this one is that it is also 3-dimensional, but you get the idea.

It gets more complicated with age, since there are more bends in the line (90-100, for instance, is almost at right angles with the ones before it) but that is more 3-dimensional and I notice it tends to change as I get older (not surprisingly, I guess.)

Months of the YearVisualization - MonthsThis is probably the most intuitive, since it’s a circle, although the exact placement of things is a bit odd. For instance, New Year’s is in the upper left. July, August, and December take up much more space than some others, although I think this is because those were times of holidays (summer holidays and the Christmas season) so they seemed to take up more time in my mind. Or maybe just because they had to connect a big area between the spring and fall semesters. In any case, this is what I see in my mind when I think of the calendar or the months of the year.


Visualization - HangulThis is the Korean alphabet and won’t have much significance to most people, but I thought I’d put it in as a point of interest. This is much simpler, maybe because there are 14 letters (these are only the consonants) and maybe because I only learned them 10 years ago. In any case, there is a definite bend in the line, possibly because the later ones are the aspirated versions of earlier consonants. Who knows.


Visualization - HistoryThis is pretty much how I visualize the timeline of history. Some of these are obvious, like a bend at the divide between BC and AD. Also, there is more room for the 20th century, since we learned a lot more about that time and it has more significance for me. I’m not sure about some of the other dips and bends, but this is just how I see things. This one is also quite 3-dimensional, but that was hard to draw.

Does this seem normal to you? Totally weird? Let me know in the comments. I’m curious how other people view the world.


Is 5 a Boy or a Girl? – The Wonders of Synesthesia

When I found out about the concept of synesthesia—linking colors to letters, for example—I thought it sounded like the coolest thing in the world, almost like a superpower. I wanted to be able to see colors when I heard music. Unfortunately, it’s not something you can get just by willing it.


You can imagine my surprise when several later, my younger sister found out that we did have a form of synesthesia. Ever since we were little, both of us have thought of numbers and letters as being either male or female. To me it was just natural and I was rather surprised that everyone didn’t do that. I think of some of them as having colors too, although that is not as clear-cut.


In my mind, the numbers 1, 3, 5, 8, 9, and 0 are male. 2, 4, 6, and 7 are female. The male numbers are mostly a blue or purple color , since I think of those as male colors, while the female numbers are all yellow or red.

It’s interesting when I think about numbers above single digits. 1 and 0 are male, but not strongly so, so 12, 14, 16, 17 are clearly female. However, something like 25 is not as clear in my mind. I would still say it’s male though, which seems to indicate that the gender is determined mostly by the last digit.


For letters of the alphabet, B, D, E, G, J, K, L, O, P, R, T, U, V, W, X, and Z are strongly male. A, C, M, N, S, Y are strongly female. The others, F, H, and I are a bit fuzzier in my mind; sometimes they seem male, other times they seem female. Are there such things as androgynous letters? Possibly.

The funny thing is, that my sister’s breakdown of the genders of the numbers and letters is totally different from mine. Actually, it’s almost exactly opposite. I’m not sure what that means, but I find it very interesting.

The ones without colors don't have a particular color strongly attached to them.

The ones without colors don’t have a particular color strongly attached to them.

Other types of categorization

Of course, there are many ways to visual or categorize the world. Some people think of different sounds as having colors. My anthropology professor in university grew up Africa where there is a rainy season and a dry season and so he naturally categorized all colors into “wet” and “dry” colors.

One strange thing I do is to categorize things by two micro machine trucks that I had when I was younger. One was blue and the other was yellow and red. My best friend used to play mostly with one and I would mostly play with the other one. I began to associate them with aspects of our individual personalities and then began to expand them to other things. It’s hard to pin down exactly what each represents, but in general, the blue one is more conservative and introverted and the red and yellow one represents more innovative, out-going things.

These are the closest I could find online.

These are the closest I could find pictures of. The bottom ones looks spot-on.

Is there any distinct way that you perceive life? Have you had similar experiences to me? I’m curious.

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