How to rethink speech?

Image from Pixabay

Rethink speech aims to help you overcome our society’s harmful false beliefs about speech by fast-tracking you to advanced findings of phonetic science. That’s quite a challenge for all concerned! How are we going to achieve it?

Well, not by telling you lots of new facts about speech: that’s the slow lane – and can be dangerous!

Rather we intend to engage you in a process of unlearning and rethinking by giving you experiences that let you notice your own beliefs about speech (conscious and unconscious), and decide for yourself whether they are true or false.

Once you have cleared the decks of false beliefs, you will be ready to start building new knowledge on a more reliable foundation (keeping a weather eye out for backsliding and cognitive dissonance!).

However, in order for that to work well, it is really important to uncover all your false beliefs

False beliefs are a bit like ants: if you find one in your kitchen, there are bound to be others, even if you don’t immediately see them! Getting rid of one or two doesn’t get solve the whole problem.

If you try to add new knowledge as soon as you’ve sorted out one false belief, you are liable to miss deeper false beliefs, and your new foundation might end up not being quite as firm as you would like.

Let’s take an example

in-basket
c+a+t = cat is true for LETTERS but is it true for SOUNDS? Have you ever tested it out?

If you are reading this page, it’s likely someone once told you that if you put the sound ‘c’ with the sound ‘a’ and the sound ‘t’, you make the word ‘cat’.

That’s a good thing to tell someone just learning to read – no doubt about that.

But there’s quite a lot of ways it’s not true. For example, ‘c’, ‘a’ and ‘t’ are not very good ways of referring to the sounds.

The problem is, you can learn to refer to the sounds in technically more accurate ways without challenging the underlying belief that ‘cat’ is made by putting together three sounds.

Now that might seem such a self-evidently true belief it is not really worth the effort of challenging it. But be honest – have you ever really tested it? Have you ever actually recorded a ‘c’-sound and an ‘a’-sound and a ‘t’ sound, and put them together to see what they make?

Don’t throw me out with the bathwater! (Image from Pixabay)

What if c+a+t=cat is a false belief?

Our society builds a lot of its ‘common knowledge’ about speech on the foundation that c+a+t= cat. But what if it’s not true?

Or what if it’s partly true in nuanced ways whose application needs to be carefully considered in light of the context it is being used in?

In that latter case, you don’t want to totally reject it or you’ll throw the baby out with the bathwater, which doesn’t help much at all.

That’s why Rethink Speech doesn’t teach by telling you facts and asking you to remember them

With apologies to whoever really originated this brilliant and useful quote

But by offering surprising and entertaining demonstrations – often based on familiar, everyday experiences – then sitting down with you to think through their implications.