Posts Tagged ‘language’

Did I hear you right? McGurk and other illusions

// November 4th, 2011 // 2 Comments » // Science at Home

The other day I was chatting about muddled senses. Do we really see what’s around us, or do we just assume it’s the same as yesterday and fill in the blanks. How do we understand half-uttered mumblings we don’t properly hear, and when we think we’ve understood, have we actually listened to the other person or just heard what we want to hear?

It lead us to talk about some illusions that show how intertwined and untrustworthy our senses can be.

Case one: The McGurk Effect

What you see changes how you hear. Take the sound “ba”. When an audio recording of “ba” is dubbed over a silent video of someone saying “fa” – then “fa” is what you hear.

If the video silently mouths “ga” or “da”, while playing a “ba” audio – it turns into the harder sound “da.”

Close your eyes and the effect stops. Open them and it starts right back up again. No matter how much you try to hear “ba”, the visual information overrides the audio. Check it out.

Try it with your eyes open, then watch it again with them shut. Whaaaaa???

This BBC video has more of an explanation and the ba/fa illusion.

Nice, but what are the applications? Firstly, I should move my mouth more clearly when I talk to people instead of my usual pirate mumble-slur.

Second, if speech recognition software uses video as well, it could possibly become more accurate.

Medical dictionary translates English to Yolngu Matha

// September 13th, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Science Communication

Yolŋu Matha is a language spoken by the Indigenous Australians of Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory. To the majority of the people in the communities, English is a second language. There’s a twelve year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people, which is pretty drastic. It’s made worse because there’s a massive communication gap between the doctors and patients.

Just last week, ARDS released a new dictionary that translates medical phrases into Yolŋu Matha. Here’s some examples:

DNA – djinaga’puy wäyuk or djinawa’wuy wäyuk
English: DNA is found inside every cell of our body. It acts like a law that is not easily changed. It controls what kind of cell each cell grows into e.g. a skin cell, or liver cell or brain cell. It also controls what work each cell does.
Yolŋu Matha: Dhuwaliyi ŋunhi djinawa’wuy wäyuk, ŋunhiny ŋayi ŋuli ga ŋorra ŋunhan bili yan ṉapuŋgan ŋunhiliyin ŋunhi nhänhamiriw waka’ rumbalwu yäku cell-ŋura dhuwal rumbalŋura limurruŋgal. Ga rommirr ŋayi dhuwaliyi djinawa’wuynydja wäyuk, ŋunhi ŋanya dhu bäyŋun nhakun yuwalktja rrorru’. Ga buŋgawayirrnydja ŋayi ŋuli ga ŋunhi bukmakkun dhiyak cell-wuny mala nhaltjan ŋayi dhu walalany dhanuŋdhun rommirriyam balanya nhakun: ŋanakpuy dhuwal rumbalpuy cell-nha ga bamburuŋburuŋbuynha cell-nha ga biḏila’puynha cell-nha. Ga ŋunhi ŋayi ŋuli goŋ-dhawar’yundja bala ŋayi ŋuli djämamirriyaman ŋunhi cell-nhany mala

hormone – dhäwu-gänhamirr wiyika’

English: Hormones are substances that are produced in our body and carried by our blood. Each hormone has its own message to give to our body.
Yolŋu Matha: “Hormone”-dja dhuwal wiyika’ mala ŋunhi ŋuli ga ŋamaŋamayunmirr dhiyal rumbalŋur limurruŋgal, ga gämany walalany ŋuli ga ŋunhi maŋguy’nha. Ga bukmakthu “hormone”-dhu ga gäna-gana ŋayatham dhäwu mala ŋunhi walal ŋuli ga gurrupan dhipal bukmaklil rumballil limurruŋgal.

How awesome is that?






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