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Author Topic: How do we know what we hear is what was said?  (Read 2068 times)

Offline Eric A. Taylor

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How do we know what we hear is what was said?
« on: 16/01/2011 05:38:41 »
A few years ago The Naked Scientists had a little game where they played a computerized voice saying something. The point of the game was to figure out what was being said. It wasn't terrible clear. I was able to make out a few words but wasn't close to knowing what was said. Once it was relieved what was being said it was clear as crystal.

Why wasn't it clear enough to make out until I knew what was said? How does the brain interpret language?


 

Offline RD

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Offline CliffordK

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How do we know what we hear is what was said?
« Reply #2 on: 18/01/2011 10:02:46 »
It has to be a complex process of understanding speech.

There used to be a kids game where a group of say, 20 children would sit in a circle.  One would say a phrase and pass it around the group.  It was always unpredictable once it got back to the beginning.

One thinks of words as independent units.  However, the starts in stops in speech aren't as clear as one would expect as one quickly learns when studying a foreign language.

There certainly is a large element of expectation as you noticed in the exercise above.  Or, I believe that it is easier to understand a sentence, rather than a random set of words.  And, with the exercise above, when I heard a word such as "zoo", I would try to recreate the sentence working from that point.

There is an extraordinary variety of human languages, including many different sounds.  So, while in vision, you may have line-detector cells, you likely have functional group cells in hearing, but with language specific responses. 

Language, of course, is processed in multiple parts of the brain including the frontal and temporal lobes.
 

Offline Eric A. Taylor

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How do we know what we hear is what was said?
« Reply #3 on: 18/01/2011 12:12:11 »
It's an amazing thing. Personally my favorite language is that of the San People in Africa. I've tried making the clicks they use but my mouth simply can't do it. Also the "G" sound in Dutch, which sounds a little like someone coughing up a loogy is tough.

Many animals, despite having no ability to speak are capable of understanding some words. My dog gets really excited when he hears words like treat, walk, and you wanan go? Clearly he's connected these sounds we make (strange barking?) to pleasant things. And it's not just the tone. If you use the same tone when saying "treat" and "walk" he goes to the right place (the back door or the kitchen.

This leads me to think that language is much older than we know.
« Last Edit: 19/01/2011 11:14:54 by Eric A. Taylor »
 

Offline imatfaal

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How do we know what we hear is what was said?
« Reply #4 on: 18/01/2011 13:11:45 »
It's an amazing thing. Personally my favorite language is that of the San People in Africa. I've tried making the clicks they use but my mouth simply can't do it. Also the "G" sound in Dutch, which sounds a little like someone coughing up a loogy is tough.

I would have to say that my favourite is the way French women roll their Rs; I must admit the Alveolar Trill when they say the letter is quite nice as well.   
 

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How do we know what we hear is what was said?
« Reply #4 on: 18/01/2011 13:11:45 »

 

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