The Realm of Speech Science

“Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of free creation.”

Noam Chomsky

The Mars rover Curiosity has been on the dusty planet since 2014. Since then, Curiosity has driven nearly 29 km and ascended 625 m as it explores Gale Crater and the foothills of Mount Sharp within it. But, are we ready to “talk” to Martians? What is “Hello” in Martian?

In early 2019, China’s robotic rover Yutu 2 has touched down the dirt ground of the 115-mile wide von Kármán Crater of the moon. As of January 2022, it has traveled a distance of more than 1 km along the Moon’s surface.

Tianwen-1 was launched to Mars in the summer of 2020, and completed the three-stage mission of orbiting, descending, and patroling. Its Mars rover Zhurong has so far traveled nearly 2 km on Mars surfae. Tianwen-2 is also scheduled to lift off in 2025. In case we run into aliens, do we know how to communicate with “them”?

For those patients with their voice box removed, how do they talk to each other?
Is laryngeal transplant possible?
How do robots talk?
Why do scratching the window glass using a coin gives us goose bumps and increases our heart rate? Can we learn to adapt this disturbing sound? Can it be used in the battle field to distract nearby snipers?
In CSI, experts compare voices to identify the suspect. How is that done? What is voice print?
How do ventriloquists talk without moving their lips? Do they really talk with their bellies? What is happening inside their mouth?

If you are also interested in these questions, welcome to the field of Speech Science – the scientific study of everything related to speech and language.