Lethologica is the psychological disorder in which you forget the words, key terms, names temporarily which you want to articulate.


The term Lethologica is derived from lēthē (forgetfulness) + λόγος (logos). In Greek mythology, Lethe was one of the rivers that streamed through the realm of Hades, from which the shades of the dead were forced to drink in order to forget their past lives on earth.

Lethologica, is said to be caused of many reasons like stress, physical fitness, social interaction and base memory capacity. The psychological disorder is also considered as a lifestyle disease. The above mentioned factors affect the temporal lobe which in turn causes the sporadic functioning of episodic and semantic memory capacities.

No treatment is available for Lethologica.

Recently, while working with a student in my office hours, I was asked what a word was in Spanish so that he could complete his activity. He first grabbed the dictionary and then said “Wait, you’re much easier”. Although I laughed and usually tell my students that I’m not a dictionary and they should use the real thing, the next thing that he said was what stopped me from my usual teacherly lectures on the importance of learning words by lexical context and dictionaries. He said “Well, I mean, if it were an English word I was looking for, I wouldn’t have asked. I’ve never seen you forget a Spanish word or, if so, take more that a couple of seconds to remember one, but in English…well… But hey, at least your English grammar is good!”

I cannot deny that I am the worst culprit of forgetting my English. I do this all of the time and it really drives me nuts and I assume everyone around me. Of course I forget my Spanish, and not nearly as much vocabulary as in English, but the funny thing is, I think I more often forget English words and  experience first hand the combative relationship between language and parole. The hardest part is when trying to recall a conversation or experience in one language and communicating it in the other. This is when my third language comes out… Spanglish. I will either throw in some Spanish words, or more often then not, change word order and sentence structure in a way that mimics Spanish.  Although, I will tell you, it is actually quite normal. You will quite often hear out of my mouth: “No, no, that doesn’t function (work)”, or “I will pass (give you something) this to you later”, or “It’s a very interesting… um, how do you say ‘temporada’ (season), in my life ?  For more information on this, take a look at this article on Second Language influence in First Language Attrition.

It fascinates me, really and it makes me want to study neurolinguistics, dissect the brain and figure out why this happens. Mostly, though, it just makes me feel like I an uneducated, inarticulate one-and-a-half-lingual person who can’t quite… can’t quite… what’s the word?

One response »

  1. hello, I just was reading your entry. and well the same thing happen to me but i forget spanish and i remember the words in english but spanish is my first language

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