Language and Communication

By George A. Miller | Go to book overview
lated word just before the test word was presented. The listener might hear 'water, hydrogen, ele-nts.' With the set so supplied he was much more likely to respond with 'elements' than he was when no set was provided.When we are listening to a familiar language, therefore, it is possible for us to supply missing sounds and words and to respond adequately on the basis of extremely reduced clues. With an unfamiliar language--foreign or highly technical--the opposite may be true. If a listener is completely unprepared for the sequence of speech sounds that he hears, his ability to mimic the sounds is greatly reduced.Perceiving speech is not a passive, automatic procedure. The perceiver contributes a selective function by responding to some aspects of the total situation and not to others. He responds to the stimuli according to some organization that he imposes upon them. And he supplements the inconsistent or absent stimulation in a manner that is consistent with his needs and his past experience.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Does the reliance upon patterns (relative rather than absolute values of components of the stimulus) for vocal communication have any analogy in visual perception?
2. Would you expect to find the phenomenon of masking in visual perception? What is visual contrast?
3. Is the human voice properly engineered? Does it provide information in the ranges where the human ear is best equipped to handle information?
4. What effects would a deafness for high tones have on a person's ability to receive vocal symbols?
5. To what extent is the mistaken perception of speech responsible for changes in pronunciation during the history of our language?
6. To what extent can we evaluate a talker's personality merely from the sound of his voice? How are we able to make such judgments?
7. How would you go about selecting a vocabulary of highly audible words for communication in the presence of intense noise?

SELECTED REFERENCES
BORING E. G., H. S. LANGFELD, and H. P. WELD. Foundations of Psychology. New York: Wiley, 1948. Chapter 14 provides an introduction to the psychology of hearing and supplements the more limited discussion given here.
FLETCHER HARVEY. Speech and Hearing. New York: Van Nostrand, 1929. The last five chapters summarize the early studies on the perception of speech.
LICKLIDER J. C. R., and G. A. MILLER. The perception of speech. In S. S. Stevens (Ed.), Handbook of Experimental Psychology. New York: Wiley, 1951. A brief summary of the experimental studies of speech perception.
STEVENS S. S., and H. DAVIS. Hearing, Its Psychology and Physiology. New York: Wiley, 1938. An advanced but readable survey of auditory theory and research.

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Language and Communication
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Preface to Revised Edition vi
  • Preface vi
  • Contents ix
  • Foreword to the Teacher xi
  • Chapter 1 - By Way of Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Phonetic Approach 10
  • Selected References 46
  • Chapter 3 - The Perception of Speech 47
  • Selected References 79
  • Chapter 4- The Statistical Approach 80
  • Selected References 99
  • Chapter 5 - Rules for Using Symbols 100
  • Selected References 118
  • Chapter 6 - Individual Differences 119
  • Selected References 139
  • Chapter 7 - The Verbal Behavior of Children 140
  • Selected References 158
  • Chapter 8 - The Role of Learning 159
  • Selected References 173
  • Chapter 9 - Verbal Habits 174
  • Selected References 198
  • Chapter 10 - Some Effects of Verbal Habits 199
  • Selected References 222
  • Chapter 11 - Words, Sets, and Thoughts 223
  • Selected References 248
  • Chapter 12 - The Social Approach 275
  • Bibliography 276
  • Index 287
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