Monday, January 24, 2011

Adventures in Linguistics and Listening

I attended a legal seminar on civility where a judge said something I didn't hear. Whatever the judge was saying, I hadn't heard or seen the words used in the same way before, so I wasn't able to process the words. (Most people who know me understand I am severely hearing impaired, but if you don't know that, all you can really notice is that I cannot properly elucidate a few words and have a weird accent when saying particular words.)

About three days later, completely by chance, I read an article using the phrase, Nine Scorpions in a Bottle, referring to Max Lerner's book. I was immediately able to fill in the blanks from three days ago and understand what the judge was saying. This doesn't make sense to me at all. Three days later?

Yet, I had the exact same experience when I went to court my first year. I could not hear anything. Well, I could hear people mouthing words, but my brain was unable to process any of it into comprehensible words. So I would go into court, and judges were saying words like "Case management status," "Neutral evaluation," "judicial arbitration," etc. None of these words are complex or difficult, but they are not generally used in the same order. It wasn't until about six months later that my brain was able to hear and process these words. So it's clear that when it comes to unusual words or words used in an unusual style, I have to either see or fully understand them before I can actually hear them. At the same time, I don't understand the language process at all. Does this mean I have to basically expose myself to most variations of words so I can maintain my ability to process language? Sigh.

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