Haven’t you caught yourself being told off if you mumble? Many times dropping vowels and swallowing consonants is considered to be a new gen thing, a secret code that youngsters use to keep away adults. However, there’s more to mumbling than creating a secret universe. According to data experts, mumbling is another term for ‘phonetic reduction’.
“Far from being a symptom of linguistic indifference or moral decay, dropping or reducing sounds displays an underlying logic similar to the data-compression schemes that are used to create MP3s and JPEGs. These algorithms trim down the space needed to digitally store sounds and images by throwing out information that is redundant or doesn’t add much to our perceptual experience—for example, tossing out data at sound frequencies we can’t hear, or not bothering to encode slight gradations of color that are hard to see. The idea is to keep only the information that has the greatest impact.”
Read this delightful essay by Julie Sedivy here: Mumbling Isn’t a Sign of Laziness—It’s a Clever Data-Compression Trick