I saw an interesting thing while surfing the internet the other day. There was a clip of two side by side images of the same man mouthing different words. On the left you saw the man mouth the word “bar” and on the right the man mouthed the word “far”. The exact same sound was looped over this video and depending on which image you looked at (either the right or the left) that is the word that you here. It is called the McGurk effect and it made me think about thick description that we discussed in class. Even that the exact same sound can be perceived in two different ways. Often times we understand things based on our visual cues but this made me realize that not only do our visual senses offer clues about what we hear, but they can directly influence the actual sounds that we perceive. I tried over and over again to look at the image on the right and hear the word as “bat”, but it was impossible. Our brains are somehow wired to understand language not just through sound but through movement. We understand what certain words look long on someones mouth and that plays a critical role in our distinguishing of a specific word for the purpose of understanding language semantically. I attempted to find the same sort of video but in a different language that uses separate phonetic sounds but I couldn’t find one. I was wondering about the idea that if you don’t understand the sound or the visual movement related to it, would you still hear the same word or would it appear as different sound either way. Even further for instance, would a monkey be able to look at this and hear both words being spoken or would he simply hear the same word and see two separate images not recognizing the muscular movement associated with each. Basically, whats being demonstrated hear is that no two senses are alone for us. Almost all of our senses rely on sight in some way. Without an understanding of our environment, many sounds would lose meaning and that is why our environment is more than just seeing or hearing it is the combination of the two that create the world around us.
here is the link
and here is another video describing the same thing