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  • "Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names." - Toni Morrison, The Nobel Lecture in Literature, 1993

    「言語があるだけで、名前のないものの怖さから私たちを守ってくれます。」 -トニ・モリソン、ノーベル文学講演会、1993 年

  • The average 20 year old knows between 27,000 and 52,000 different words.

    20 歳の人は、平均して 27,000〜52,000 個の異なる単語を知っています。

  • By age 60, that number averages between 35,000 and 56,000.

    60 歳のときには、その数は平均 35,000 から 56,000 個の間です。

  • Spoken out loud, most of these words last less than a second.

    はっきりとわかっているのは、これらのほとんどの言葉が、1 秒未満で終わるということです。

  • So with every word, the brain has a quick decision to make: which of those thousands of options matches the signal?


  • About 98% of the time, the brain chooses the correct word.

    約 98 %の確率で、脳は正しい言葉を選びます。

  • But how?


  • Speech comprehension is different from reading comprehension, but it's similar to sign language comprehensionthough spoken word recognition has been studied more than sign language.


  • The key to our ability to understand speech is the brain's role as a parallel processor, meaning that it can do multiple different things at the same time.


  • Most theories assume that each word we know is represented by a separate processing unit that has just one job: to assess the likelihood of incoming speech matching that particular word.

    ほとんどの理論では、私たちが知っている各単語は、「入って来た音声が一致する特定の単語の可能性を見積もる」という 1 つの仕事しか持たない、個別の処理ユニットによって表されると想定しています。

  • In the context of the brain, the processing unit that represents a word is likely a pattern of firing activity across a group of neurons in the brain's cortex.


  • When we hear the beginning of a word, several thousand such units may become active, because with just the beginning of a word, there are many possible matches.


  • Then, as the word goes on, more and more units register that some vital piece of information is missing and lose activity.


  • Possibly well before the end of the word, just one firing pattern remains active, corresponding to one word.

    おそらくその単語が終わるかなり前には、1 つの単語に対応する 1 つの発火パターンだけがアクティブのままになっているでしょう。

  • This is called the "recognition point."


  • In the process of honing in on one word, the active units suppress the activity of others, saving vital milliseconds.

    1 つの単語に焦点を合わせる過程で、アクティブなユニットは他のユニットのアクティビティを抑制し、重要なミリ秒を節約します。

  • Most people can comprehend up to about 8 syllables per second.

    ほとんどの人は、1 秒で約 8 音節まで理解できます。

  • Yet, the goal is not only to recognize the word, but also to access its stored meaning.


  • The brain accesses many possible meanings at the same time, before the word has been fully identified.


  • We know this from studies which show that even upon hearing a word fragmentlike "cap"— listeners will start to register multiple possible meanings, like captain or capital, before the full word emerges.


  • This suggests that every time we hear a word, there's a brief explosion of meanings in our minds, and by the recognition point the brain has settled on one interpretation.

    これは私たちが単語を聞くたびに、私たちの頭で複数の意味が短く爆発し、認識点までに脳が 1 つの解釈に落ち着くことを示唆しています。

  • The recognition process moves more rapidly with a sentence that gives us context than in a random string of words.


  • Context also helps guide us towards the intended meaning of words with multiple interpretations, like "bat," or "crane," or in cases of homophones like "no" or "know."

    文脈はまた、複数の解釈を持つ単語で、意図された意味へと私たちを導くのに役立ちます。たとえば、 「バット」や「クレーン」、または「No」や「Know」のような同音異義語の場合にも。

  • For multilingual people, the language they are listening to is another cue, used to eliminate potential words that don't match the language context.


  • So, what about adding completely new words to this system?


  • Even as adults, we may come across a new word every few days.


  • But if every word is represented as a fine-tuned pattern of activity distributed over many neurons, how do we prevent new words from overwriting old ones?


  • We think that to avoid this problem, new words are initially stored in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, well away from the main store of words in the cortex, so they don't share neurons with others words.


  • Then, over multiple nights of sleep, the new words gradually transfer over and interweave with old ones.


  • Researchers think this gradual acquisition process helps avoid disrupting existing words.


  • So in the daytime, unconscious activity generates explosions of meaning as we chat away.


  • At night, we rest, but our brains are busy integrating new knowledge into the word network.


  • When we wake up, this process ensures that we're ready for the ever-changing world of language.


  • At TED, we're passionate about the human capacity to share ideas.

    TED では、アイデアを共有する人間の能力に情熱を注いでいます。

  • That's why the TED-Ed team created a program to help you mine your life experience for ideas and stories worth sharing, and then craft those experiences into compelling talks.

    ですから TED-Ed チームは、共有する価値のあるアイデアやストーリーのために、あなたの人生経験を掘り起こすのに役立つプログラムを作成しました。そして、それらの経験を人を惹きつける話題に作り上げます。

  • It's called TED Master Class, and you can learn more and download the app at

    それは TED マスタークラスと呼ばれていて、 / masterclass で詳細を確認してアプリをダウンロードできます。

"Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names." - Toni Morrison, The Nobel Lecture in Literature, 1993

「言語があるだけで、名前のないものの怖さから私たちを守ってくれます。」 -トニ・モリソン、ノーベル文学講演会、1993 年

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