Teenglish from England

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Sep 18 11:57:37 UTC 2009

As a character in Pogo once said, I'd write him a letter if he could
read, if I could write.  But anyway --

I happen to have seen recently a discussion of this in _Doctor
Dolittle's Delusion: Animals and the Uniqueness of Human Language_,
by Stephen R. Anderson.


At 9/18/2009 03:40 AM, Nathan Sanders wrote:
>On Sep 18, 2009, at 2:44 AM, Tom Zurinskas wrote:
>>When you know that when a sound sounds like something else it
>>actually IS the sound it sounds like then you'll understand.
>As M Covarrubias pointed out, you're conflating two very distinct
>(1) the physical reality: an articulation made in the speaker's vocal
>tract (consisting ofspecificed position and shape of the tongue, lips,
>velum, etc.), and the resulting sound wave that passes through that
>articulation (vibrating molecules with fundamental frequencies,
>harmonics, resonant frequencies, anti-formants, dampening, etc., as
>determined by the vocal articulation)
>(2) the auditory perception of that physical reality: the distortion
>made by the listener's ear and brain when they process a sound wave
>(there are a variety of relevant effects, such as perceptual averaging
>of neighboring resonant frequencies, non-linear transformation due to
>shape of the cochlea, the inherently logarithmic nature of perception
>as explained by Weber's Law, and even additional physical warping of
>the sound wave itself due to resonance and dampening within the ear
>If you articulate [I] before [N], you will generate sound waves that,
>when measured by a computer, will come out with the expected
>frequencies for a nasalized [I] articulation, but when that sound wave
>is heard and interpreted by an actual human being with a human ear and
>human brain, it will often be perceived as [i] instead, because of how
>we transform the acoustic signal while processing it.
>Simply put, what we hear is not identical to what is said.
>Nathan Sanders
>Linguistics Program
>Williams College
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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