Springingtiger's Blog

Market Harborough Moments

I answered a call in the early hours of the morning from someone looking for a number. At first I thought they wanted a taxi, but when I asked them to repeat their request I heard “Dial a Curry, in Edinburgh”. Unfortunately I could not find a number for Dial a Curry and with regret I told them so, to which they responded, “Not Dial a Curry, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh!” (a number I could find)

This story illustrates how I tend to process spoken language. What I obviously pick up is the shape of the words, which I then interpret logically according to context. In this case it was late at night when people tend often to be looking for taxis or fast food. Logically Dial a curry was a very good interpretation, apart from being totally wrong, of course. I am not sure how many words in a sentence I actually hear and how many I interpret from the context, I suspect much depends on circumstance.

I am largely incapable of separating auditory inputs so when there is more than person talking their speech comes in as one input. Add to the speech any background noise, particularly music or television and confusion is inevitable. I am currently attending a series of seminars where much of the input is over videoconferencing, I am getting very little out of it because I cannot make out what is being said, but the assignments are useful. However the assignments are given to us in a printed form, much easier to understand. Although it must be admitted that the tendency of numbers and letters to move around can be infuriating it doesn’t interfere usually with the overall sense and can always be reread for clarification.

The reason I prefer cinema to television is the absence of conflicting inputs it is as if lowering the lights moves people to silence, whereas in a well lit sitting room they will happily chat with no consideration for anyone trying to watch television. There is much to be said for headphones, and while they may prevent the chatty people from listening to the television program one is watching, I personally am inclined to the opinion that one should make a choice, either chat or watch, no one can do justice to both.


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