December 09, 2004

Da da da

A little gem brightened grading of our Linguistics 1 final today.

Background: the McGurk effect involves integration of visual information in speech comprehension, as in this video (and see Sally Thomason's and Bill Poser's LL posts too) where the sound ba ba, ba ba, ba ba is overlayed on a video of a man who appears visually to be saying ga ga, ga ga, ga ga. If you listen and watch at the same time, you might well perceive da da, da da, da da. Pretty damn cool. It's surely no coincidence that the place of articulation (i.e. where  the air gets blocked) for "d" is midway between "b" and "g". Looks to me like your fantastic mother of a brain is interpolating multimodal evidence as to the physical air-blockage position in realtime. For full appreciation of coolness, try the video with eyes closed or no sound. Warning: I personally have played the video so many times that I even perceive da with the sound and visuals both turned off. da da da. It just goes on and on.

One unfortunate student taking Linguistics 1 was sick during the quarter. She missed the class where I explained the stuff above, and all she had to go on was her memory of the video from the class website. So question 9 on her final, worth 8 points, ended up looking like this:

Question: 9. What is the McGurk effect and what does it show? (1 brief paragraph)
Answer:       In the video the man seemed to be repeating [daa] over and over again. Aphasia?

How many points should I give her? For full marks she would have had to have specified Broca's (aka Production) Aphasia, right?

Tangentially, you seem like the generous type, and I have to let someone know about my new Christmas wish: I'd do anything for a McGurk remake of this bilingual Trio classic. This is what you need to know. Aha.

da da da (repeat to fade)

Posted by David Beaver at December 9, 2004 02:15 AM