Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

Hard Tundra

March 4, 2019

Adventures in cross-dialect understanding in the One Big Happy strips of 2/1 and 2/2, both featuring Ruthie and Joe’s playmate James:




The art class

May 23, 2018

Edward Steed cartoon in the May 21st New Yorker:

It’s about point of view (pov), especially as this reflects selective attention, an inclination to focus on certain things in the context over others.


What is figure, what is ground?

May 8, 2017

David Sipress in the latest (May 8th) New Yorker:


“I can’t remember—do I work at home or do I live at work?”

Which is the ground — home (living place) or workplace — and which is the figure — working or living?

A question framed in the caption as a chiasmus, abstractly of the form X … Y / Y … X?



July 22, 2016

Today’s Bizarro, on categories in the domain of sexuality and gender:


(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

Some brief introductory words on homosexual, gay, and queer. Then on LGBTQ. And on to a recent NYT Magazine article on queer. Which leads, remarkably, to the Penrose triangle (of interest to scholars of both perception and art).


Falling trees

August 23, 2015

Yesterday’s Bizarro puts a fresh twist on an old philosophical puzzle:

Previously on this blog, a Zippy (posted 10/15/12) on a related theme, with the punning punch line:

If a red-breasted nuthatch sings in a forest & there’s no one there to google it, did it post a tweet?

So what does it refer to in the top panel? In the old conundrum, it refers to the falling of the tree. But in the bottom panel, it refers to the tree itself, which turns out to have the power of speech; it can certainly make a sound (of its own volition).



January 4, 2015

A continuing ad campaign for Febreze air freshener and odor eliminator products warns us about noseblindness,

The gradual acclimation to the smells of one’s home, car, or belongings, in which the affected does not notice them (even though their guests do). (link)

An illustration of a cat owner’s noseblindness, showing how visitors will perceive their house:

Noseblind is a fairly clever coinage for this sensory saturation effect, treating it as similar to being temporarily blinded by bright lights or deafened by loud noises. But it’s not truly similar to being blind or deaf. which are enduring and more global inabilities.


Coffeenyms and reservation names

October 7, 2014

From Andras Kornai, a link on my Facebook timeline, tagged as “for Mr. Alexander Adams”: a Schwa Fire piece, “The Name on the Cup: Brewing the Perfect Coffeenym” by Greg Uyeno. About choosing a name for ordering in a coffee shop with lots of background noise. A related task is choosing a name for making reservations over the phone (I have a small amount of local fame in some circles for using Alexander Adams as a reservation name.)

Then there’s Uyeno’s playful coinage coffeenym.


Puns and their allies

September 23, 2014

It starts with today’s Zippy, with a punning title; continues with a Discover Card tv commercial for fraud protection (or frog protection); and ends with some bilingual play involving Nadia Boulanger. There will be digressions at each stage.

The Zippy:


The title, “Getting a Bad Feline”, puns on feeling and (with reference to the actual theme of the strip, the cat-replacement phenomenon in Dingburg) feline. Feline survivalism in the last panel (which I won’t comment on here), and, throughout, an entertaining pattern of naming from trade names (which I will).


Hallucinations and delusions

June 4, 2014

An avalanche of linguistically relevant cartoons this morning. I’ll pick out a few individually, then post a collection. First, an old Doonesbury, relevant to one of the occasions of the week in my house, the anniversary of my husband-equivalent Jacques’s death in 2003; the relevance will soon become clear.


Aero-tactile integration in speech perception

December 15, 2009

That’s the title of a recent article (November 26) in Nature by Bryan Gick and Donald Derrick (Linguistics, Univ. of British Columbia), reported by science journalists around that time: for example, on National Public Radio; in New Scientist; in the New York Times; and in Scientific American.

The main result is that the perception of initial voiceless stops p and t (which in English are aspirated) is improved when a slight puff of air on a listener’s skin accompanies the production (and the perception of the voiced stops b and d is confounded by such an accompanying puff of air). That is, tactile information is integrated with auditory information in speech perception.

There are long-known parallels having to do with integrating visual information with auditory information in speech perception: being able to see articulations improves speech perception in noisy environments, and if the two sorts of information are at odds, perception is confounded (in the McGurk Effect).

These cross-modal interactions are consistent with some form of the motor theory of speech perception, which holds that speech perception is guided by identifying the vocal tract gestures involved in speech production — a hypothesis that gets some support from the discovery of mirror neurons, which respond both to performing an action and to observing the action being performed by others.

(Comments are off on this one because it’s significantly out of my field of expertise, so I’m mostly just providing links.)