A is for apple and f is for phoneme

You know that you’ve been hanging around Auditory Verbal Therapists too much when you start to think the start up sound your Apple Mac makes is the Ling sound oo.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about – don’t be alarmed. Six months ago I’d never heard of a the 6 Ling sounds and the word phoneme brought very hazy memories of something someone may have said when I was at school. Now word counts, grammatical features and phonological processing are invading my dreams. As one colleague said to me recently, ‘you mean nightmares don’t you?’

It’s the age old question. How much about a topic do you need to understand to build a data solution for it?

I remember going on an SPSS course years ago and there were participants concerned they didn’t understand enough stats. The lecturer replied with a comparison to watches – you don’t need to know how all the parts inside work in order to tell the time.

As far as subject knowledge goes, I tend to be a person who seems to need more rather than less, in order to come up with a data solution. However I draw the line at vowel formants. To start with, it sounds like cake icing. Not just any icing either. That hideous hard white stuff that coats fruit cakes – fondant. Secondly, the drawn diagram of 1st and 2nd vowel formants reminds me of ‘how to play the recorder’ diagrams for some reason… and we all know how scarred most people are from childhood recorder lessons!

While I seem to have some obsession with turning speech pathology ‘lingo’ into food related items (fricative to fricassee and formant to fondant), it amazes me how people who are talking about the English language, can sound like they are talking another language entirely! This is probably because I am in that missing generation who didn’t learn grammar formally while at school. I’m not sure whether this was just a NSW thing, or Australia-wide but my generation seems to have missed out on the thrill of being able to correctly name grammatical features – irregular past tense, negatives, prepositions, possessives and so on. What we did learn, it turns out, is wrong. All my life I’ve been under the impression there are 5 vowels in the English language when there are really 12. Actually, don’t quote me on that. It may have been 12 formants… or fondants. Yes, 12 fruit cakes. Hmmm… fruit cake = me at the end of this project.


Posted on November 16, 2011, in Allied health, Data, Not for Profit and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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