Anlysis of accuracy of reading aloud.

I noticed that often when people are reading aloud that if you pay attention to each word they say and the text they are reading you will spot a few small differences between what they say and what is written down. Often these errors do not seem to change the meaning or if they do they have a very small change. The rate at which these errors seems quite small as someone can read a page of text and only make a handful of errors. I decided to test exactly what sort of errors people were making and so took a selection of almost equivalent length text and recorded someone reading it aloud, I did not tell them why I was recording until they had read the text, and then transcribed it to compare any differences.

Original text:

I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition; that this goodly frame the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy the air, look you, this brave o’er hanging firmament, this majestical roof, fretted with golden fire: why, it appeareth no other thing to me, than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. ‘What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor Woman neither; though by your smiling you seem to say so.

Transcription:

I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition; that this goodly frame the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this MOST excellent canopy the air, look you, this brave o’er hanging firmament, this majestical roof, fretted with golden fire: why, it appeareth no other thing to me, than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. ‘What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor Woman neither; though by your smiling you seem to say so.”

Brief analysis:

This section of text was read out by someone who knew the text quite well yet they still forgot a single word. This omission kept the sentence grammatically correct and only very subtly changed the meaning.

Original text:

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Dan will be a snake at the side of the road, A poisonous snake beside the path, That strikes at the horse’s heel, So that the rider is thrown off backward. The king is not to have a large number of horses for his army, and he is not to send people to Egypt to buy horses, because the Lord has said that his people are never to return there. Sisera’s mother looked out of the window; she gazed from behind the lattice.

Transcription:

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Dan will be a snake at THE side of the road, A poisonous snake beside the path, That strikes at the horse’s heel, So that the rider is thrown off backward. The king is not to have a large number of horses for his army, and he is not to send people to Egypt to buy horses, because the Lord has said that his people are never to return there. Sisera’s mother looked out of the window; she gazed from behind the lattice.”

Brief analysis:

This is a random composite of biblical extracts which the reader had never read before yet he still only made one small mistake when he omitted an article.

Original text:

I'm down here on the bottom
Hand over hand crawling thru 
Digging in my own brown matter
Searching for some clues

Head down, I’m getting weary
Waiting for the rains to come
Rinse the refuse from my eyes
Looking for lost crumbs

I left a trail to follow
Then was led astray
Birds are forever hungry
And shit got in the way

There is no sense in crying
It won’t do me any good 
Wallowing in my own existence
I would stand up if I could

A pure and senseless loathing
Toward a world I deem unkind
I still can’t find my way
Am I really that blind?

No beacon in the darkness
No voice to call my name
My body growing numb
And now it’s pouring rain

I have to keep on looking
Keep my head above the flow
Someday I’ll find my breadcrumbs
And know which way to go

Transcription:                                            

Head down, I’m getting weary
Waiting for the rains to come
Rinse the refuse from my eyes
Looking for lost crumbs

I left a trail to follow
WHEN I was led astray
Birds are forever hungry
And shit got in the way

There is no sense in crying
It won’t do me any good 
Wallowing in my own existence
I would stand up if I could

A pure and senseless loathing
Toward a world I deem unkind
I still can’t find my way
Am I really that blind?

No beacon in the darkness
No voice to call my name
My body growing numb
And now it’s pouring rain

I have to keep on looking
Keep my head above the flow
Someday I’ll find my breadcrumbs
And NOW I know which way to go

Brief Analysis:

The slightly higger level of errors in unseen poetry seems to suggest that the way the text is physically written down affects the amount of errors.

The fact that the same amount of errors were made with a well know piece and a random piece shows that errors are not due to familiarisation with the text. Also the errors were very small and only scarcely affected the meaning which might suggest that when people read normally they are not focusing on each word but are processing the meaning of the sentence and so when you tell them to read aloud they will preserve the meaning but might make small omissions of words as they are focusing on the sentence as a whole and not each individual word. The fact at a poem of roughly equal length as the other extracts had more errors suggests that the layout affects the accuracy as if there is enjambment it seems to require more thought to read out loud and so there are more errors as the reader is slightly confused.

This also shows that occasionally the reason why the reader changes the text is to make it adhere to correct grammar and so is probably being done subconscious in a similar way to how children often regularise irregular verbs. In a similar vein I was listening to a young child reading and noticed that they often changed words such as “this” to “the” which is a similar subconscious way of simplifying language.

Please note I do not own the rights to any of the text I used in the extracts.

Advertisements

Possible explanation for use of light imagery to describe attractive people.

When people are describing someone they have a romantic interest in they tend to use phrases such as “radiant” or other descriptions that conjure up images or light. For some reason when I thought of this idea I had lots of examples in my head but now seem unable to find any actual examples other than my thoughts.

This could be due to the physiological change in a person’s eyes as when someone looks at someone they are attracted to their bodies will produce more dopamine which has the effect of dilating pupils. Pupil dilation would let more light into the viewers eyes and so they might perceive the person they are looking at to be brighter than normal.

However, this might instead be due to people using similar phrases they have heard before and are prevalent in society, but this still would not explain where these phrases come from. As most works of literature can be shown to borrow heavily from those which came before and so if a few ancient authors used similar imagery it would then create an image that seems to be right due to the authors familiarisation with the image. Thus the idea that these phrases have some physiological cause seems to be the most convincing.

There could be another explanation in the broader way in which goodness is associated with light. Examples of this are the large amount of comparisons between God and light in the Bible. The angles are always described as being cloaked in light as shows by the description of one in Daniel 10:5-6 in which he says that the angle was “like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze”. This association of light with good is also present in more contemporary examples, such as Star Wars, the bad faction is the “dark side”.

This presumably stems from evolution as humans cannot see very well in the dark and so associate it with danger and thus evil, whereas light enables humans to see and removes the dangers of darkness and so is perceived to be good. This idea also associates light with power as one of the most powerful thing in early society would have been fire and so light would become associated with power.

I think it is probably a mixture of these two explanations which causes the type of phrase I am discussing as if someone is describing someone to be attractive they will most likely also want to depict them as powerful and good, but may be influence by the way attractive people seem better illuminated that all others due to pupil dilation.

Analysing the effect of alcohol on texts.

I made a graph recording the number of words per text. This was done by looking at texts which had been sent during a 20 minute period. I counted all individual entities to be separate words, such as “k”, but for contractions, such as “can’t”, I counted that as two words. However, for the abbreviation “lol” I counted it as one word as it is used in a different way than the constituent words. Some of the texts were taken from a text conversation when the sender was totally sober and had not drunk anything, the other texts were taken from the same sender’s conversation but at a time when they had drunk a few glasses of wine and who was noticeably slightly inebriated.

Graph of effect of alcohol on texts

As you can see from the graph without alcohol less texts in general were sent and each text tended to be shorter. You can also see that without alcohol there was a significant increase of very simple sentences. This would suggest that without alcohol the sender is happy to say things simply without additional detail or embellishment. I would think that this is because alcohol lowers inhibitions and so the additional information which people want to say but normally leave out is included in texts. This would also partially explain the increased number of texts as someone who wishes to convey lots of information is more likely to send another text to add further detail to a previous one.

You might also note that on average without alcohol the texts were four words long which is consistent with very basic sentences such as Subject Verb Object which also includes a few articles e.g. “I watch a film”. Whereas when the sender had alcohol the mean text length was six words long and tended to include more unneeded words such as the text “Anyway I can cook that”. But when you look at the graph you can see this is misleading as the more average text length is actually slightly higher but is skewed by the large amount of single word texts sixteen with alcohol and eleven without. If you find the mean ignoring the single word texts you get a mean of six and a half without alcohol and seven and a half with. This shows that, excluding the single word texts, the texts with alcohol is only a word more than without. This suggests that the alcohol only has a slight effect on the sentence length of texts. With single word texts however, which tend to be simple affirmatives, such as “k” and “yeah”, there is nearly a fifty percent increase in these texts when the sender has had alcohol.

I also counted the number of contractions and abbreviations and found that without alcohol the sender only used ten whereas with alcohol they used thirty eight. This is nearly a fourfold increase which is rather large. This would suggest that with alcohol the sender wants to use more words but is impatient and so used contractions to make long sentences with less typing.

From these results I would conclude that the smallish amount of alcohol has only a slight effect on the structure and frequency of texts, however the effect is still noticeable. This effect seems to be making the sender more loquacious as their texts were on average longer and they was a significant increase in the frequency of texts. The increase in contractions also suggest an impatience and desire to say more in the same amount of time. However, my conclusion is not very well supported as I have only analysed texts sent in a twenty minute time period, a longer time period would be useful but the text conversation I took my data from was not very long. Also I would ideally use a set amount of alcohol and then analysis conversation at different levels of inebriation, but if the subject was given a set amount and knew it was for study they would presumably alter their speech and so the study would not work.

Hello

Hi,

This blog will be a mix of posts of things I have noticed and thought about Most of the things I will talk about will be focused on language and historic technology, hence the name.  I hope that it will not be too boring to read. Also check out my instructables page to see what else I get up to.

If you have any questions feel free to email me at InscribingAntiquity@gmail.com.

Ed.

PS Most other posts will be longer than this as this is just a hello.