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Boots and Cats! Speech Science for Fun & Profit!

June 12, 2015

In speech-science terms, the plosive “b” (“boot”) is misheard as representing the kick-drum, as used in the conventional organisation of a real or electronic drum-kit, while the hard “c” phoneme (“cat”) is misheard as representing hand-claps or possibly snare drums. I particularly like the way alveolar hissing sibilants (“boots n’ cats”) are used to represent the addition of hi-hats in the familiar style of an electronic house music or acid mix. As EH Gombrich observed (“Rorschach Audio” book, page 25) “we can read speech into a medley of noises”. In contrast the philosopher and cognitive scientist Jerry Fodor states in his (hugely influential) MIT Press book “The Modularity of Mind” (page 53) that “you can’t hear speech as noise even if you would prefer to”… although no doubt more difficult, in this instance that doesn’t seem to be case.

Thanks to Francis Parker for the heads-up!

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