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.

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.