Why Humans Read So Well
- Length: 1:44 minutes (1.59 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)
August 15, 2011
Interview with Mark Changizi, author of the book Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man
And the reason that we’re such good readers is because writing got itself shaped to look like the kinds of couture conglomerations that happen in nature - just the kinds of things that our visual system did evolve to process.
In other words the sounds that make up our language mimic the sounds of nature.
Most fundamental kinds of sounds in our environment are solid objects and the sounds they make when they hit or slide or ring. Speech across humankind is filled with plosives; “ba, ca, ta” – those sound like hits. And there’s fricatives the second main class which sounds like; “fh, th, sh” – they sound like slides. And then you have the rings, we have vowels; “a,e,i,o,u and the y’s and r’s” The 3 fundamental constituents of speech match the 3 fundamental atoms of the sounds of solid object physical events.
Mark found this to be true in 18 diverse languages and it is likely in every language on the planet.
That’s how you can turn an auditory system that never evolved for speech into a speech recognition system. And that’s how it can support language even though it never evolved to do so.