Speech and Hearing in Communication

Speech and Hearing in Communication

Speech and Hearing in Communication

Speech and Hearing in Communication

Excerpt

The processes of speaking and hearing are very intimately related, so much so that I have often said that we speak with our ears. We can listen without speaking but cannot speak without listening. People who are born without hearing learn to talk only with the greatest difficulty, and none of them has yet succeeded in producing what most of us would call normal speech.

There are many aspects to the perception of speech, but the principal ones may be divided into five groups. First and foremost is the process that enables one to recognize the speech sounds which one hears, which will be called the interpretation aspect. Second, one can perceive whether the speech sound which comes to the ear is loud or soft--the loudness aspect. Third, one can perceive whether the pitch of each speech sound is high or low--the pitch aspect. Fourth, one can perceive the quality of the speech, whether it is harsh or pleasing, rich or drab, animated or dull--the quality aspect. Fifth, one can perceive whether the speech sounds are spoken very rapidly and excitedly or slowly and deliberately--the tempo aspect. It is the purpose of this book to discuss in detail these various aspects of the perception of speech with particular emphasis on the interpretation aspect and to determine how these aspects are changed as the three elements of a communication system; namely, the speaker, the listener, and the transmission system are changed. To discuss this in a quantitative way, one must have a knowledge of the processes of speaking and hearing and of the physical characteristics of the speech sounds as they are propagated through a transmission system.

Nearly everyone is familiar with the general principles of how we speak and hear. By means of the speech organs, vibrations are set up which are transmitted through the air to the ear of the listener. Here the speech waves cause the eardrum to vibrate, and it, in turn, passes the vibrations through the chain of small bones of the middle ear to the oval window of the inner ear. By means of a marvelous mechanism the vibrational energy is here transformed into nerve impulses which are sent to the brain.

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