UCL Laboratory for Language and Speech Diversions

Public Engagement

Our laboratory strives to engage the public with research. Here is a brief showcase in reverse chronological order.

Yahoo Health (May 26, 2015)

Prof. Andrew Nevins was asked to comment on why we often mishear lyrics -- Mondegreens for an article by Yahoo Health writer Korin Miller.

Excerpt: "Prone to mondegreens? It might not be your fault. Andrew Nevins, PhD, a professor of linguistics at Britain’s University College London tells Yahoo Health that some sounds are just more easily confused than others.

Consonants are typically more confused than vowels, he says, and unstressed syllables are more easily confused than stressed syllables. Nouns are also confused more often than verbs. So, when you have a line like “got a long list of ex-lovers,” which contains two nouns out of six words and three words that start with consonants, it leaves a lot open for misinterpretation."

For the full article please visit: https://www.yahoo.com/health/even-taylor-swifts-mom-got-that-blank-119948277022.html

Bright Club (May 15, 2014)

Speaker: Nick Neasom

Abstract: LLSD member Nick Neasom explains what phonology is and, perhaps more importantly, what it isn't.

Bright Club (www.brightclub.org) is a monthly event where university researchers perform stand-up comedy based on their research and academic life in general. Promoted to the public at large, Bright Club is a great opportunity for graduate students and staff to share their passions and projects with the widest possible audience.

Languages ​​Science Festival, Rome (Jan 1, 2014)

Title: Sounds, Signs and Structures

Speakers: Diane Lillo-Martin, Andrew Nevins and Kyle Johnson gave a talk at the The Languages ​​Science Festival 2014 in Rome (“I Linguaggi” Festival delle Scienze 2014) on “The sounds, signs and forms of language“.  http://www.auditorium.com/eventi/5669480

Abstract: There is hidden structure to the atomic parts of language: the gestures and sounds that make up words and sentences. This structure is largely responsible for all of the magic that is language. It is responsible for enabling meaningless sounds and signs to become bearers of meaning. It equips sentences with the ability to express literally an infinity of messages. It is the key to how language codes information. These lectures will explain how research in linguistics discovers such structure, with illustrations from natural languages. Professor Johnson will present some of the latest ideas about how words are structured into larger syntactic building blocks. Professor Nevins will show how single speech sounds are organized into larger phonological units. And Professor Lillo-Martin will reveal how signed languages exploit the same principles of organization, despite the different modality of expression.

 UCL Lunch Hour Lectures (Feb 26, 2013)

Title: By the donzerly light: when our ears play tricks on us

Speaker: Prof Andrew Nevins, Professor of Linguistics, UCL Division of Psychology & Language Sciences.

Abstract: Almost every song lyric can be misunderstood: famously, Jimi Hendrix's 'Kiss the Sky' is often heard as 'Kiss This Guy'. Why does this happen? While slips of the tongue are well-known, slips of the ear have received far less attention. Professor Nevins has developed a database of 4000 naturally collected examples where the hearer is the source of miscommunication. Looking into recurrent slips reveals that our expectations can bias what we mishear, but within limits: the actual utterance and the misheard message must be phonetically close enough to allow our ears to deceive us.

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