• Background
  • Mongolian
  • Welsh
  • Amharic
  • Navajo
  • Hungarian
  • Quiz


Think about listening to someone speaking in English (presumably a language you are fluent in, if you are reading these words) and about listening to someone speak in a language with which you are not familiar (e.g., Telugu, Yalunka, or Sorani). When listening to English, we hear distinct words, pauses in between words, and then more words again. When listening to an unfamiliar language, it often sounds like a continuous cascade of sound. In a language you are learning, there may be a flip between the word-pause-word perception and the continuous sound. At some points, you may be able to parse the speech correctly into words, but in other cases, you may not. Why does this perception occur? It turns out that speech perception is dependent on a number of top-down processes. That is, knowledge about language influences how we perceive speech.

In this activities you can listen to different languages and experience some of the difficulties of parsing some of the languages into meaningful units.


Listen to some Mongolian here.


Listen to some Welsh here.


Listen to some Amharic here.


Listen to some Navajo here.


Listen to some Hungarian here.