A witch had her broom stolen. In this funny cartoon, the witch victim misunderstands the question asked by the policeman. It does garner a chuckle or two.
Soft consonants are a challenge for the hard of hearing
This cartoon exemplifies how easy it is to misunderstand specific words with even the slightest degree of hearing loss. Those pesky high-frequency components of speech are problematic. The high-frequency sounds in speech are, ch, th, c, t, s, sh and f. In this cartoon, the hard of hearing witch is unable to discern the “ch” in which from the “th” in the witch.
According to the World Health Organization, hearing loss is defined as not being able to hear high-frequency sounds. Consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” have higher frequencies (1,500 to 6,000 Hz).
My “accent” resembles the harsher, guttural sounds of German. I cannot hear, therefore cannot pronounce, soft consonants. My speech has become less harsh through the years because of the hearing aids, and now my cochlear implant. I hear more of the soft consonants. Thus I am able to hear myself pronounce them.
These soft consonants are often the reason for the complaints about hearing aids. Many say that all their hearing aids do amplify what they already hear well while overshadowing softer tones. On the other side of the spectrum, others complain about the “tinny” sound of their hearing aids – often caused by hearing the previously unheard soft consonants.
Recognizing a misunderstanding by the person with a hearing loss, or by the person listening to the speech impediment of a hearing-impaired person, reminds us to be patient and understanding, rather than struggle. This awareness could bring on a chuckle or two, leaning us towards the lighter side of hearing loss.