The Language Instinct - Study Guide Chapter 6: The Sounds of Silence Summary & Analysis

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Chapter 6: The Sounds of Silence

Pinker talks about an experiment while he was at McGill University regarding audio perception. The test was to use two tones and stream them simultaneously to learn if the tones remained separate or blended together. Pinker received some strange results that he did not understand. Years later it all made sense to Pinker. The tones blended together to create a sound that resembled computerized speech. The brain is wired to hear certain noises in a phonetic way even if it is not speech. This is how mynah birds are able to fool people. The sounds made by the mynah are simple sounds but are perceived as speech by the listener. It is not speech, it is an illusion.

Pinker discusses speech as an illusion: "All speech is an illusion. We hear speech...

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