Rethink Speech is developed by Dr Helen Fraser.
Helen is a specialist in cognitive and forensic phonetics: a theorist who has worked on many practical applications in the real world.
Having observed that many problems were caused by our society’s poor understanding of the nature of speech and how it works, she decided to do something about it.
The first step was to understand what causes the poor understanding. It turns out that it is not lack of knowledge, but false beliefs confidently accepted as ‘common knowledge’ – even by people making high-level decisions that affect the lives of many.
Rather than trying to educate on a piecemeal basis, she decided to create materials that would bring the findings of phonetic science to a wider audience, especially to policy-developers and law-makers.
It’s no good for phoneticians to complain that our society doesn’t know enough about speech. The experts need to take responsibility for getting the knowledge out there, in a form that is accessible and engaging.
Hopefully Rethink Speech will go some way in that direction. Offers of help, encouragement and support are always gladly received, along with comments, questions, suggestions – even criticisms!