HD 7: Tip of the Tongue Phenomenon

In the Psychology of Language, we learned that there is a Phenomenon called the Tip of the Tongue phenomenon. (Similary, deaf people who use sign language have a Tip of the Hand Phenomenon).

This is basically: the failure to retrieve a word from memory, combined with partial recall and the feeling that retrieval is imminent.The phenomenon’s name comes from the saying, “It’s on the tip of my tongue.” [from wikipedia]

Another way of describing it is that you recall the lemma but not the lexeme. That basically means that you can picture some of the letters in your head and you have a vague idea of the pronunciation, but you don’t exactly know what word you want to say.

Another major thing that has to do with TOT is that when you are in this phase, and you are trying to remember that Name or word, you should immediately stop and look it up. Why? Because the longer you stay in that state (of thinking and trying to come up with the word on your own) the more likely you are to go into that state the next time you want to remember that name or word. Amazing, isn’t it?

How is this relevant to us and to memorizing Qur’an?

Simple.

Have you ever been reciting an ayah, and then in the middle of it, you come to a halt? You have some sort of recollection of the meaning of the next phrase or word, but you can’t remember the exact words. Has this ever happened to you, or to someone who is reciting to you? It very likely has.

According to the findings of the TOT Phenomenon, when this happens, you should not rack your brain trying to figure out what comes next. You should immediately stop and pull out the mushaf to check. If the person who is reciting to you seems to be experiencing a TOT, cut off their “thinking” and tell them what comes next. They are more likely to remember it next time inshaAllah.

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