This Week in Sound: Rating the Pronunciation

A lightly annotated clipping service

These sound-studies highlights of the week are lightly adapted from the August 8, 2022, issue of the free weekly email newsletter This Week in Sound:

As always, if you find sonic news of interest, please share it with me, and (except with the most widespread of news items) I’ll credit you should I mention it here.

“The call of the corncrake — a small, shy bird related to the coot — is harsh and monotonous, yet for older generations it was a beloved sound of summer in Ireland, evoking wistful memories of warm weather, hay making and romantic nights.” ➔

“Twitter is developing an updated version of its audio chat rooms product known as Spaces. … [S]creenshots of one of the earlier versions of this test include what appear to be thematic audio stations as well as a personalized audio digest.” ➔

Report from Mukono, Uganda: “[A Mukono municipal environment officer] accuses born-again churches of organizing open air night crusades that cause a lot of noise pollution in the area affecting locals but the Officer in Charge (OC) of the Mukono Police Division Environment Unit, Mr Moses Byamukama defends the churches saying ‘they are exercising their fundamental right of freedom of worship.’” ➔

“In one vision of classrooms of the near future, young children will put on headsets and read sentences aloud as they navigate computer programs powered by speech-recognition technology. Behind the scenes, that technology will listen to each student and spit out dozens of lines of code, rating the pronunciation for each individual sound and word in the sentence and tracking the timing of every utterance. By the time each student reads an entire passage aloud, the software will have mapped where they stand on a few hundred finite skills needed to be a fluent reader.” ➔

“People could soon let their ears do the talking when using a virtual assistant thanks to an ear-reading device. When we speak or mouth words, our facial muscles move and our ear canals change shape. The new earphone technology detects those changes, allowing people to issue silent speech commands.” ➔

John McWhorter, a New York Times opinion writer, connects the rise of the word “satisfying” to another popular phenomenon: “The inception seems to have been a proliferation, starting several years ago, of online videos exploring A.S.M.R. — autonomous sensory meridian response — as a kind of low-grade euphoria one can achieve from various, often mundane experiences such as hearing book pages turned, having one’s hair combed, or listening to repetitive sounds such as finger tapping or whispering.” ➔ (Thanks, Rich Pettus!)

A web browser tool for aspiring synesthetes: “What if you can hear your painting? Turn your paint brush into musical instruments and compose on sensorial canvases!” ➔ (Thanks, Rob Walker!)

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