Lipreading flat faces

12 03 2008

DCAL (Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre) are running a forensic lip reading course for people with top lip reading skills. The pilot course has already started however more should be in the pipeline.

I’ve been lip reading all my life and it’s a great party trick.

(me) – Oi! Say something Ken, without using your voice.
(Ken) – [silently] I’m single, come and get me!
(me) – [repeats after Ken, verbatim]
(everyone else watching) – *Gasp*

It always works. The verbatim bit, I mean.

It’s incredibly hard to lip read a flat screen, or more specifically, someone on a flat screen. People on TV programmes often are too small to lip read, talk too quickly, and are not always facing the camera. You can’t lip read the back of someone’s head. So trying to lip read by turning the sound off on the TV is a non-starter really, as Goran found out. He thinks it’s incredibly hard. Well, it is. And it’s very tiring too, which is why I’m zonked out every evening, unless I’ve spent the day at the beach or sailing with my dog – I don’t need to lip read him do I.

Lip reading, in my opinion, should really be called face reading. You need to see the whole face to pick up all the little clues that fill you in on what someone’s saying. The expression on the face, the mouth shape, the forehead lines, and particularly the eyes. If someone is wearing sunglasses, it’s hard as hell to lip read them, even if I can see their lips. Other lip reading obstacles are moustaches, beards, burqa / hijab, hands over mouths, cigarettes in the mouth, food in the mouth (a pet hate of mine), a lisp, a stutter, and darkness (!)

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4 responses

12 03 2008
Dale

I think you’re dead right about some of this. My mum says I’ve got a flat face, and I can’t lipread myself when I look in a mirror…

12 03 2008
lette

yeah Im a lip reader all my life, and like you I get great fun out of it, but reading what ur not ment to see can get you in very awkward situations!

13 03 2008
Smarty

God! The sample on the DCAL website is almost impossible. Have watched it through several times and not even sure what topic of their conversations are – never mind make out what they are saying. And I have had to lipread people all my life!

13 03 2008
macian

lol that made me laugh dale.. very funny.

back to topic, I have never been able to lipread any faces on any type of TV, used to drive me mad people saying they could, I tried so hard and got nowhere, even being that close the static tickled my nose ; )

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