Getting rid of the native accent is one of the most challenging steps when learning a foreign language. There are exceptional cases when having it is a plus, like the actress Sofia Vergara who with her character Gloria in Modern Family has achieved worldwide recognition due to the way she mispronounces English and makes fun of her voice. However, in real life having a strong accent is not always handy and can interfere with the way in which one communicates his ideas and expresses feelings. Indeed, such processes of improvement of a foreign language demand time, dedication and conscious study.
Imagine if you could see with your tongue or instead, taste what you see. Our perception of the surrounding environment would change dramatically if this was to be true and surprisingly this idea is not as unrealistic as you might think. What if I were to tell you that “everything is programmable,” or will be soon. Our bodies and our world can be programmed to any desired specification. This may sound like science fiction but examples of this can be found in nature. The Synsepalum dulcificum, aka “Miracle Fruit,” a West African berry is able to temporarily reprogram your taste buds to make anything sour or bitter taste perfectly sweet, a simple example of a sensory substitute.
Standard procedure after getting hit in the face with a rocket propelled grenade and losing your sight in Iraq, is to go on living life as a blind person. Lance Corporal Craig Lundberg, a 24 year-old soldier from Merseyside, was faced with this fate in 2007. Last month however, his life changed completely. He became an ideal candidate for the British Ministry of Defence, in their desire to test some revolutionary technology they call "BrainPort", in the hope of acquiring, something they call "lingual vision". The essence of lingual vision being that you can see what's around you with your tongue. No really.