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Malaprop Monitor

Disconcerting blurting alerting
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Getting a bit long in the tooth? Neurons starting to fire a bit off-key? Use the wrong word from time to time?

It is a truism that those of us who suffer the bitter embarassment of Alzheimer's that is the reward for many long lives often have trouble speaking. The mind may function more or less well some days, but a certain aphasic effect causes the tongue to trip even on our best days. There are, of course, many of us who speak with a bit less skill than we would prefer. This device is for such people.

The advent of modern microprocessors and the concomitant miniaturization of other electronic devices now makes it possible to construct a system small enough as to be easily portable that can monitor your speech patterns and correct your grammatical and contextual mistakes in real time.

Easily disquised as a shirt-pocket hearing aid or cell phone - and perhaps even doubling as either or even both - the monitor uses off-the-shelf voice recognition software to keep track of what you say, and in what context. The system is optimized for text management and nothing else, so it need have no accessible memory or large processing capacity for anything besides this one job. As you speak, the software translates your words into text it can analyze, and sound a discrete tone to warn you of errors it has noticed. There will be a fairly short period early in the use of the device as it "learns" your particular speech nuances and tonal qualities, but its accuracy can only improve, and it will catch your accidental slips of the tongue quickly enough to allow you to correct yourself before your audience has enough time to get caught up on your verbal slips. Perhaps, with such immediate correction, the device could act as a training aid for the aphasic or Alzheimer's sufferer and lead to an overall improvement of communication skills.

This idea comes from my wife, whose grandfather, a bright and direct man in his youth, eventually died virtually mute after a long, erosive struggle with Alzheimer's.

elhigh, Aug 23 2005

Aphasia training software http://www.bungalow...herapy_software.htm
Exists, but is of course non-contextual - the training program asks you questions, you give answers. [jutta, Aug 23 2005]


       Alzheimer's is an evil disease, especially for the brief moments of lucidity it affords its victims, just so they can see how helpless they really are. One of my grandparents died from it, and I have another one going the same way at the moment.   

       Context-sensitive computing is a pain in the bum, though. I hate to generalize, but I seem to see a lot of glossing over of the importance of context in HB computing ideas. I don't see any way that a computer can predict whether, in a particular sentence, you're trying to say 'food' or 'f**k' (and that's got to be a pretty fundamental difference!). Most slips of the tongue are substituting similar wodr types - swapping a noun for a noun, for example. It might pick up grammatical errors, but since most speech is one big grammatical disaster (well, mine is, anyway), I can't see it working. Sorry to be so negative. I' d love to be proved wrong!
moomintroll, Aug 23 2005

       [moom], if there's one thing in the world I'd hate to be, it'd be the poor bloke who's got to try to develop software that can make sense of context. I don't doubt it can be done, but I know I don't want to be the fellow that has to do it.   

       The spelling, word-usage and grammar monitors in, for instance, MS Word are far from foolproof - I prove them fools all the time - but they are also pretty effective on average. It's my esoteric subject choices and somewhat archaic language style that often leaves them behind.   

       Seriously, not trying to gloss them over, but I don't think the issues of context are insurmountable.   

       That said, your comment of "glossing over" reminds of a classic Far Side cartoon, in which an advanced math student is writing a long equation on the board. Somewhere in the middle his notations are broken with the phrase, "...and then a miracle occurs..."
elhigh, Aug 23 2005

       The third paragraph sounds like an invitation to suspend disbelief masquerading as marketing gobbledigook, and I'm a bit wary of ideas that use that particular trick. It doesn't make for an interesting site if every other invention proposes a little magic box that does X. But anyway.   

       "Perhaps, with such immediate correction, the device could act as a training aid for the aphasic or Alzheimer's sufferer and lead to an overall improvement of communication skills."   

       If that is true, there should be something like "interruptive therapy" for Alzheimers sufferers that allows them to stay socially active longer by helping improve their speech in a safe setting. (Given that the technical device described doesn't exist, substitute a human.)   

       I'm not sure it is true, though - is getting interrupted and corrected any better than conventional Aphasia therapy (i.e., answering questions and remembering words for things)?
jutta, Aug 23 2005

       You'd better make it rugged. "Why are you stomping on that device?" "I don't remember"
Worldgineer, Aug 24 2005

       The device only interrupts - it leaves the correction to the user.
elhigh, Aug 24 2005


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