Tue Sep 23 11:55:58 UTC 2003

Hi Stuart, Sandy and all:

Been a long time since I posted here, but I do read every post.

>I think this is great! Now we can have parties where everyone sits around
>with a glass of wine in one hand and a slice of cake in the other, and we
>can still talk!  :)

"Foot talking" is an interesting concept!  The only thing I don't like
about the way it was shown is that you have to stand up for E, G and P--and
the rest you have to lay down (or at least sit down with legs outstretched.
If they could all me made from the same position, that would be great!

>How about a SignWriting-style notation for oral languages?
>This would show the roof of the mouth, jaw, teeth &c to indicate how a sound
>is produced. I've attached a crude first-attempt sketch of the word "thanks"
>to give you an idea. It's a cross-section through the mouth, assuming that
>the mouth is always symmetrical when speaking. You see the use of the
>"contact" symbol in "th" and "ng", and I've used the "strike" symbol for the
>sudden release of air in "k". I've used a wiggle "~" to indicate vibration,
>so in "a" the vocal chords are vibrating and in "ng" both the vocal cords
>and nasal cavity are vibrating. Other sounds would need lips and dental
>ridge and suchlike to be drawn.

Another neat idea.

>The hardest thing to figure out is how to distinguish different vowels, but
>someone who really understands the linguists' "anvil" diagram for vowels
>should be able to figure it out!

Vowels are shown by the shape of the lips and the amount the mouth is
opened for each.

>I suppose the diagram would have to be drawn bigger to show the shape and
>position of the tongue properly, so it's probably not practical as a writing
>system. But on the other hand it can show some subtleties such as the fact
>that the tongue turns up slightly in "th" which might help people who are
>just learning the language.

Actually, the tongue is placed between the teeth for the "th" sound--not
turned up like for the "L" sound. Incidentally, there are two different
sounds for "th" although both look the same on the lips. A voiced "th" as
in "those" and a voiceless "th" as in "think". We'd need a way of showing this.

>I bet this has either been thought of before, or it's fatally flawed...!

One of the big problems is that several sounds/shapes look exactly the same
on a person's lips but they are different if you can hear them. For
example, the sounds of "P", "B" and "M" all look identical, so do "F" and
"V" so you can only separate them by their sounds--not their mouth shape.
We call such sounds homophenes.

English is a VERY ambiguous language in this respect. For example, the
words shoot, June, shoes, juice, Jews and choose all look identical on a
person's lips. So do the words sheep, cheap and jeep. So do the words quiet
and white--and on and on it goes. There are hundreds and hundreds of
identically shaped words that sound different.

I'd be interested if someone has a solution of how to overcome this problem
in a writing notation.

One of these years I'll get around to finishing my book on speechreading
called "We Hear With Our Eyes--the Art and Science of Speechreading." In
the meantime, I have a few other books I need to finish before this one.



Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
Center for Hearing Loss Help
49 Piston Court
Stewartstown, PA 17363
Phone: (717) 993-8555
Email: neil at hearinglosshelp.com
Website: http://www.hearinglosshelp.com

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