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Author Topic: Are there any devices to assist in learning foreign languages?  (Read 2754 times)

Paul Anderson

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Paul Anderson  asked the Naked Scientists:

Hi Chris and team,

As I am interested in foreign languages, I am always keen to know new or old techniques and equipment, which will help adults learn foreign languages. I read that after the age of 3 years our voices have learnt the sounds we are likely to be set with for life.

When there is a verbal conversation between two people, the speaker makes an utterance thinking he/she is saying something, and the listener may hear something different. For example, a Korean telling you to sit down, but mixing the s and sh¯!

Has there been a device invented where the size of the mouth cavity, tongue, palate, and vocal organs of a human have been either x-rayed or in some way measured, and then calculations done on a computer, to aid a human speak a foreign language with a native accent?

I have heard some programs which mimic human speech and they can adjust for a male or a female voice, so they must have been able to reduce speech to a minimum understandable set of frequencies and then I presume add in refinements to make the sound masculine or feminine.

I think there are some computer programs which will show waveforms of a native speaker and you try to mimic it. I have not seen such a program, but I wonder what the displays actually measure and display, e.g volume, frequency modulation, etc.

Sorry I have rambled on. Basically would you folk like to comment on what scientific advances have been made with computers and/or mechanical devices to aid foreign language acquisition, or for that matter aiding deaf folk to talk?

What do you think?


 

lyner

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I think what you are after is a babel fish.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Ears can help  :D
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Paul - there is some research going on at Sheffield university at the moment into speech recognition software. Rather than concentrating on just the actual sound, they are investigating what happens in the mouth & throat as we make various sounds. They have built a head with a moving jaw & tongue.

The research is far from complete, but it's certaibly an interesting project.

Have a listen to the Naked Scientists podcast for July 27th.
« Last Edit: 28/07/2008 17:25:05 by DoctorBeaver »
 

Offline Pumblechook

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The only thing I find  useful PC-useful is a dictionary where you can look up words quicky.  Can't see that any other PC based stuff is of much use except for getting a beginner off the ground.   Translation software is still pretty poor but is a little better than it was a few years ago.

The only other techno item of use is a short wave radio or satellite TV/radio.

 

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