Saturday, December 31, 2016

August 17, 2015

August 17, 2015

Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer

Dear Reader, 
After writing my long response to the paper “Talker-specific learning in speech perception” by Nygaard and Pisoni (1998), I feel validated that my discovery of Sound Verbal Behavior (SVB) makes sense in the light of the research that was done by others. I remember how frustrated I used to feel that nobody wanted to talk about my finding. Something is happening these days that I could have never imagined a couple of years ago: by reading and writing about what others have written, I somehow have become part of the conversation. It seems to me that everybody should want to know about SVB, but the reality is they don’t. In spite of the fact that the lack of SVB used to be a big problem to me, I am different from most people as I have developed an intense longing, which has led to my discovery. Without this longing, I would have never achieved what I have achieved. Most people don’t have passion, which is born out of pain and suffering. At this point, so many good things have happened in my life, so much acknowledgement of SVB has already occurred, that my intense longing for it is gone. I have it every day, it is my life. It is wonderful and I am so happy and content.

Due to my lengthy response to this research paper, I realize once more how  important the speaker-as-own-listener (SAOL) is for SVB. As long as the SAOL is not activated, we will continue to have NVB. We have been told to listen to others, but nobody has ever told us to listen to ourselves while we speak. Once we do that, we are going to have a different conversation than the one which we were used to. The mechanics of SVB and NVB are so incredibly simple: we engage in NVB when other-listening takes president over self-listening, but we engage in SVB each time when self-listing is emphasized over other-listening. In SVB we find out that self-listening includes other-listening, but other-listening excludes self-listening in NVB. The SAOL is activated during SVB, but SAOL is deactivated during NVB.  SVB is a function of environmental variables which activate the SAOL.

August 16, 2015

August 16, 2015

Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer

Dear Reader, 

This writing is my sixteenth response to “Talker-specific learning in speech perception” by Nygaard and Pisoni (1998). In the general discussion of their paper the researchers conclude that the “listeners who learned to attend to talker-specific attributes of the speech signal were able to use that information to aid in the recovery of the linguistic content in the acoustic speech signal.” What does it mean for listeners to be “able to attend to talker-specific attributes of the speech signal?” When we consider the fact that the listener most often must simply suck it up, we are taking a Noxious Verbal Behavior (NVB) perspective, but if we bring in the possibility that the listener can become a speaker, then the listener can let the speaker know how he or she is affecting him or her with his or her sound and the speaker can then adjust the sound of his or her voice in such a way that he or she is only positively affecting the listener. This would be an example of Sound Verbal Behavior (SVB). Thus, “attending to the talker-specific attributes of the speech signal” requires SVB, but is impossible with NVB. 

In NVB there is no feedback from the listener to the speaker in the sense that the listener can become the speaker. In NVB, there is unidirectional, hierarchical interaction in which the speaker talks at, not with the listener. In NVB there is an absence of turn-taking. The NVB speaker always demands the attention from the listener, but in SVB the speaker doesn’t demand the attention at all, because he or she generates and shares the attention with the listener, who can also become a speaker. Moreover, in SVB, the speaker is his or her own listener, but in NVB others than the listener within the skin of the speaker are the only listeners. During NVB the listener within the speaker's skin is not home, that is, the speaker is not connecting with this listener within. The reason that this occurs is because in NVB speaking and listening are happening at different rates. Only when speaking and listening are happening simultaneously and at the same rate, the speaker has SVB. 

These findings only become clear during SVB because only SVB can we address matters “at the broadest level.” In NVB we cannot, we have not and we will not be able to accurately address these matters, because NVB is based on the bias of the speaker. “This finding suggests at the broadest level that the perception of indexical or personal properties in the speech signal and the perception of linguistic properties are not independent, but rather are fundamentally linked in the perception of spoken language.” However, it is a characteristic of SVB that “indexical or personal properties in the speech signal” are “fundamentally linked” with “the perception of linguistic properties” as in NVB they are disjointed and seemingly “independent.”

This research is important, but it needs the SVB/NVB distinction to make more sense. Since this research is about the fundamental link between “perception of linguistic properties” and “indexical or personal properties”, we must explore this while we speak. Only when we verify this link while we speak will we be able to realize how different writing about talking is from talking. “This demonstration of the influence of perceptual learning of talker identity on linguistic processing has implications not only for current theories of speech perception and spoken language processing, but also more generally for theories of perceptual learning and perception.” The SVB/NVB distinction sheds light on the distortion which occurs in NVB. 

“Different kinds of talker-specific information are available in different kinds of utterances and that all levels of talker-specific information are susceptible to the effects of perceptual learning.” It's typical for NVB to dismiss the common explicit or implicit identity of the “talkers’ voice in speech perception as a source of noise that must be discarded or separated from the linguistic content.” We  accept as normal a way of talking, which, because we remain stressed is abnormal and detrimental to our relationship and health. Only by taking the time to talk about talking and by exploring while we are talking, can we “take linguistic representations out of the domain of abstract, symbolic units and into the domain of representation and memory for natural events and specific instances of these events." 

The contribution these researchers make is captured in the following sentence: “given the present findings, however, it appears that the phonetic module does “know” something about the talker’s voice.” Of course, it is all a matter of conditioning. Only to the extent that listeners have experienced SVB, do they know and can they know when they are dominated, exploited, silenced, ignored and marginalized by NVB speakers. However, the sad fact is that, by and large, people don’t receive enough SVB reinforcement to be able to withdraw from NVB. In other words, they keep being engaged in NVB and are consequently negatively affected by it.  

“Talker-specific perceptual operations are retained or developed during the course of training, and listeners find speech from familiar talkers to be more intelligible than speech from unfamiliar talkers because they are better able to disentangle talker from linguistic information." This seems to reflect what is happening in the normal course of development: “The perceptual operations that are specifically associated with unraveling the variations introduced by particular talkers could be modified to become more efficient.” Ideally, those who raise us don’t require us to “disentangle talker from linguistic information.” Ideally, we are brought up with mostly SVB.

Monday, December 26, 2016

August 15, 2015

August 15, 2015

Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer

This writing is my fifteenth response to “Talker-specific learning in speech perception” by Nygaard and Pisoni (1998).  The problem with Noxious Verbal Behavior (NVB) is that it is disembodied communication. During NVB communicators become like talking heads which have no awareness at about their body. Not surprisingly, we get stuck with “abstract, symbolic units” whenever “talker-specific sensitivity” supersedes “linguistic content.” It is important to realize that this is done by the threatening speaker, who exploits the fact that the listener can be imprisoned by and consequently controlled by words. Another way of explaining this is that in NVB the listeners fail to acknowledge that the speaker’s descriptions are not the described; they don’t realize  that the speaker speaks with what Native Americans have called ‘a forked tongue.’

People who are not in touch with their feelings are always troubled by that. They long to be in touch with what they feel, but can be deluded by those who pretend to be in touch with what they feel. We describe our emotions inaccurately and get easily trapped by words which take us away from instead of get us in closer to our feelings. Such words may be part of some song, ceremony or text that was presented by some singer, poet, writer, actor, priest or guru, who supposedly knows better than the listener how to express him or herself. NVB is the kind of talking in which we can’t help but fake our emotions. When we don’t really feel our emotions, that is, when we have no awareness of our body, we cannot describe our emotions. When the speaker attains Sound Verbal Behavior (SVB), however, because he or she listens to him or herself while he or she speaks, although he or she may still have to look for the right words, he or she is quite capable of accurately expressing what he or she feels. Stated differently, the NVB speaker is constantly putting words into the mouth of the listener, but in SVB the speaker has his or her unique way of expressing him or herself. 

The authors write in the discussion part of their paper that “as overall intelligibility of the stimulus set deteriorated, listeners were more likely to bring to bear talker-specific information to aid in their transcription performance.” The authors focused on how the listener deals with the speaker, but how the speaker deals with listener was not mentioned by them. The above example describes NVB, because “talker-specific” variables deteriorate the “overall intelligibility of the stimulus” due to the hierarchical differences between the speaker and the listener. When the speaker exerts power over the listener he or she expresses NVB. Under such circumstances the listener is coerced, while he or she is experiencing a fight, flight or freeze response. Such involuntary responses take the attention away from what is being said. As a result, the NVB speaker can get away with superficiality, mediocrity, lack of knowledge and unaccountability and they can continue to brag, intimidate and be insincere.

Consequently, “listeners may use talker information to a greater extent in listening situations that are degraded” because they are forced and have no other choice. The “vocal attributes” of the speaker that are most familiar to the listener are those to which the listener responds innately. To recognize the sound of danger or safety in the speaker’s voice is not a cognitive, but an innate pre-verbal behavior. Although often overruled by language, this phylogenetic mechanism is still there in humans and widespread across many species. A listener’s “familiarity with a talker’s voice” is a nonverbal phenomenon. The “cocktail party” effect, which occurs when a listener is able to focus his or her auditory attention on the voice of one particular speaker, while filtering out a range of other stimuli, such as the voices of others who are also talking, is a mostly a nonverbal phenomenon. 

As the example makes clear, understanding a speaker in a noisy room depends on the listener’s familiarity with a talker’s sound. If my hypothesis is correct, listeners will be able to understand SVB speakers in a noisy room much better than NVB speakers, because the SVB speaker focuses on his or her own sound while he or she speaks. In NVB the attention of the speaker is not going to his or her sound, but to what he or she is saying. It has been  the experience of those who are familiar with the distinction between SVB and NVB that one can have SVB in noisy environment just as easily as in a silent environment. Noise in itself is not the point, but threat is. Noise can  facilitate the stimuli (Establishing Operation) which make it more likely that we will listen to ourselves while we speak.

The SVB/NVB distinction predicts that sentences will be "a rich source of talker-specific information” and “that learners are sensitive to the additional talker information in sentence-length utterances.” However, the distinction between SVB and NVB brings our attention to the kind of “talker-specific information” which only the listener deals with. Whether the listener knows it or not, is aware of it or not, recognizes it or not, he or she will always respond differently to a SVB speaker than to a NVB speaker. The NVB speaker, because of his or her demands is bound to speak shorter sentences and give orders than the SVB speaker. As the NVB speaker provides less “talker-specific information”, he or she is more difficult to understand. “Sentences appear to provide information about talker-specific acoustic–phonetic implementation strategies in addition to higher order information about idiosyncratic prosody, rhythm, and meter. During training, listeners apparently exploit all sources of information to help them learn the set of voices in this task.”

This research provides straightforward evidence for the distinction between SVB and NVB as the “results confirm the importance of the role of talker information in spoken language processing.” Listeners cannot afford to become “familiar” with a NVB speaker, as they have to remain on guard. They can and they will only be able to relax with a SVB speaker. Thus, the negative or positive affect induced in the listener by the speaker always either hinders or enhances the listener’s ability to understand what the speaker is saying. “Familiarity with talker-specific information not only aids speech perception when higher level, top-down strategies are limited, but also when several sources of linguistic information are available to the listener.” This interpretation is in my opinion incorrect because the authors are not aware about the distinction between SVB and NVB. These “higher level, top-down strategies are limited” only in NVB, but they are always stimulated and enhanced by the SVB speaker. Indeed, the NVB speaker elicits bottom-up processes, which impair and diminish the listener’s ability to make use of “top-down strategies.” Thus, only in SVB are “several sources of linguistic information available to the listener.” Stated more bluntly, the NVB speaker forces the listener into a sense of dissociation.  

“These findings suggest that the use of talker-specific information is
important in general in the perception and comprehension of spoken language and is used in conjunction with other sources of information to derive a linguistic interpretation of a talker’s utterance.” Only the SVB speaker can facilitate interaction, because only the SVB speaker continues to induce and maintain positive emotions in the listener. Amazingly, we haven’t yet gotten clear on the simple fact that as long as speakers induce negative emotions in listeners they undermine interaction. It is important to recognize that although the NVB speaker induces negative emotions in the listener, he or she isn’t experiencing negative emotions in him or herself. 

The NVB speaker is only capable of feeling his or her own negative emotions once he or she is no longer capable of dominating others. As long as he or she is able to dominate others, the NVB speaker is totally unaware about his or her own feelings, but comes across as guarded, pretentious and predetermined. The “other sources of information to derive a linguistic interpretation of a talker’s utterance” are only available with a SVB speaker, who allows for a fair amount of spontaneity. The NVB speaker always narrows down the conversation, while the SVB speaker broadens it. This is not to say that the SVB speaker prevents the listener from focusing. To the contrary, the SVB speaker creates a better, effortless focus in the listener.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

August 14, 2015

August 14, 2015

Written by Maximus Peperkamp, M.S. Verbal Engineer

This writing is my fourteenth response to “Talker-specific learning in speech perception” by Nygaard and Pisoni (1998).  The authors conclude in the discussion section of their paper with “Although lexical and indexical information are arguably higher order aspects of spoken language, they may nevertheless behave like lower level perceptual dimensions” This finding supports this writer’s SVB/NVB distinction, which makes us realize that when we talk, our sound is congruent with and supporting what we say or incongruent with and therefore distracting from what we say. We  have SVB in the case of the former and NVB in the case of the latter. 

It is important that the speaker pays attention to how he or she sounds. If the distinction between SVB and NVB is not made by the speaker, as is always the case in NVB, it can only be made by the listener in response to the speaker. If this listener becomes the new speaker and is also not listening to him or herself, as is always the case in NVB, the previous speaker is not going to be convinced by someone who is not listening to him or herself, to listen to him or herself. Consequently, communicators in NVB struggle to get each other’s attention, but they are not paying attention to themselves. 

By focusing on the speaker and the listener separately, the researchers omit what is the most important aspect of verbal behavior: the speaker-as-own-listener. The SVB/NVB distinction only makes sense in the light of the speaker-as-own-listener. As long as listening to others is over-emphasized, listening to ourselves is not getting the attention. Listening to ourselves while we speak requires our attention, as the speaker who makes others listen to him or to her, but who is not listening to himself, will be talking at others, but not with them and will therefore still not feel listened to.

We only feel listened to when we listened to ourselves while we speak.
“Although all listeners received the same amount of training, only listeners who could successfully identify the talkers’ voices explicitly showed a benefit in the word recognition test.” These researchers did not think of training the talkers in identifying their own voices. The speaker, who listens to him or herself while he or she speaks, who is responsive to the listener within his or her own skin, has a very different effect on the listener outside of his or her skin. Such a SVB speaker is easier to listen to as the listener doesn’t need to differentiate between “talker-specific” and “listener-specific” variables, because the talker has already done that.

“Detailed representations of linguistic events appear to be retained in longterm memory, and linguistic categories may consist of collections of instance-specific exemplars rather than some type of abstract prototypical summary representation in which aspects of spoken language such as talker’s voice (and speaking rate, vocal effort, etc., for that matter)
are eliminated.” Only during NVB the listener is forced by the speaker to “eliminate” certain “aspects of spoken language such as talker’s voice.” And, even if the listener, who became a speaker, listens to him or herself while he or she speaks, as in SVB, and tries to explain to the former speaker that he or she was not listening to him or herself, this seldom will actually result in this speaker beginning to listen to him or herself. Most likely this listener, who became a speaker, looses his or her SVB and switches back to NVB, while trying to talk with the other NVB speaker.

The NVB speaker is hardly ever really in the position to give up his or her dominance, which is exerted and maintained by his or her NVB, as he or she is only capable of listening to him or herself if the situation is created in which he or she can do that. In other words, only when he or she is given the adequate kind of environmental support will he or she be able to shift from NVB to SVB. The fact that an annoyed listener may experience a NVB speaker as aversive and then tries to change this speaker’s behavior by talking with him or her, doesn’t mean this listener is capable of providing the speaker with what he or she needs to be able to listen to him or herself while he or she speaks and produce SVB.  

The following statement is made by a SVB speaker, because only such a speaker is capable of expressing him or herself in such a fashion that the listener is not forced to separate “talker information” from “lexical information.” The SVB speaker possesses a skill which the NVB speaker simply doesn’t have, because the NVB speaker was never reinforced on previous occasions for listening to him or herself while he or she spoke. Thus, the NVB speaker is incapable of producing the behavior which was never taught to him or her to begin with. Now read the following statement: “Not only is talker information retained along with lexical information, but these two dimensions do not appear to be separable or independent in perception and attention.” Stated more accurately, listening and speaking behaviors “are two dimensions” which are inseparable as in “perception and attention” they occur simultaneously. The “memory” of a listener is a function of the extent to which his or her listening and speaking and also his reading and writing behaviors became joined. In NVB there is a separation between the speaker and the listener and between the writer and the reader.

“There are important processing consequences for a shared or detailed representation of linguistic events. One of these consequences is that perceptual learning of voice identity can result in talker-specific sensitivity to linguistic content.” If we like how a speaker sounds, we are more likely to learn from him or her, but if we are repulsed by the speaker’s voice, our attention will be drawn to how he or she sounds instead of to what he or she says. This has nothing to do with “processing”, but with whether the listener experiences the speaker's voice as reinforcing or punishing. 

Our nervous systems respond phylogenetically, that is, we respond in the only way that is biologically possible, and ontogenetically, how we have been conditioned during our lifetime. Based on our behavioral history the speaker-as-own-listener is our worst enemy or our best friend. Writing something without reading it makes absolutely no sense and saying something and without listening to it is a symptom of insanity. All insanity is based on the separation of the speaker from the listener and all of our problems with perception and attention can be reduced to this.