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One recent morning when I was having difficulty waking up, I was flipping through the channels on the television as I ate my breakfast while waiting for the coffee to brew, and I stopped on a news program.  I followed the news stories for some time, long enough to eat most of my bowl of Greek style yogurt strawberries and heavy whipped cream, when I suddenly noticed the news people were all speaking french, and it occurred to me that I don't speak french.  I checked what channel I had on, and , sure enough, it was a french speaking channel from Canada.  

 

It wasn't until I realized I they were speaking french that I became unable to follow the program.  How was it that I was able to understand them before I realized they were speaking french?  Was my barely awake brain merely hearing the few words I knew and the few that have words similar to english and extrapolating to fill in the blanks?

 

Has anyone else ever had similar experiences? 

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It is a psychological phenomenon of the brain "filling in the blanks" for you when you're not paying attention:

 

Researchers at the University of Toronto have discovered how the brain helps us see and interact with objects by filling in missing information, according to a study published in the June issue of Current Biology.
 
Because most of what people see is often blocked by other objects, the visual information received by the brain is usually incomplete. "People take perception for granted because it seems so instant and automatic to us," says Allison Sekuler, associate professor of psychology at U of T and one of the study's senior authors. "What many people don't realize is that the objects we see are not necessarily the same as the information that reaches our eyes, so the brain needs to fill in those gaps of missing information."

Source: University of Toronto press release 2 Jun 2000, Science Daily

 

The research mentioned here is specific to sight, but similar phenomena have been observed with hearing. The ear interprets unintelligible voices as "something that sounds familiar" when all that's registering is unintelligible talking.

 

 

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said, :phones:
Buffy

 

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Also quite possible the program was switching back and forth between french and english. Some of our PB channels run 10 mins english and then re-iterate the same information in french right after (or the reverse). The House broadcasts are often doubled-up on two neighboring channels, with the english one dub-or-sub translating the french bits and the french one likewise with english. If you were watching the political boys spewing their rhetoric It's quite possible it WAS english for the first 15-20 minutes, and you got "slapped awake" when they swapped speakers and they chose to use official language #2.

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  • 3 weeks later...

One recent morning when I was having difficulty waking up, I was flipping through the channels on the television as I ate my breakfast while waiting for the coffee to brew, and I stopped on a news program.  I followed the news stories for some time, long enough to eat most of my bowl of Greek style yogurt strawberries and heavy whipped cream, when I suddenly noticed the news people were all speaking french, and it occurred to me that I don't speak french.  I checked what channel I had on, and , sure enough, it was a french speaking channel from Canada.  

 

It wasn't until I realized I they were speaking french that I became unable to follow the program.  How was it that I was able to understand them before I realized they were speaking french?  Was my barely awake brain merely hearing the few words I knew and the few that have words similar to english and extrapolating to fill in the blanks?

 

Has anyone else ever had similar experiences? 

I believe we're all semi-coherently omnilinguistic deep down, it's like synesthesia, but for practical reasons our alertness requires total-comprehension when we're fully awake so that we can better communicate with each other. 

 

Just like cognitive overload, individuals are trapped by their IQ in a sense. This is why savants emerge from head trauma. 

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One recent morning when I was having difficulty waking up, I was flipping through the channels on the television as I ate my breakfast while waiting for the coffee to brew, and I stopped on a news program.  I followed the news stories for some time, long enough to eat most of my bowl of Greek style yogurt strawberries and heavy whipped cream, when I suddenly noticed the news people were all speaking french, and it occurred to me that I don't speak french.  I checked what channel I had on, and , sure enough, it was a french speaking channel from Canada.  

 

It wasn't until I realized I they were speaking french that I became unable to follow the program.  How was it that I was able to understand them before I realized they were speaking french?  Was my barely awake brain merely hearing the few words I knew and the few that have words similar to english and extrapolating to fill in the blanks?

 

Has anyone else ever had similar experiences? 

Suspect it was because, like a lot of people, you are in the habit of not really paying attention to the TV when you are also doing something else. 

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  • 3 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Also quite possible the program was switching back and forth between french and english. Some of our PB channels run 10 mins english and then re-iterate the same information in french right after (or the reverse). The House broadcasts are often doubled-up on two neighboring channels, with the english one dub-or-sub translating the french bits and the french one likewise with english. If you were watching the political boys spewing their rhetoric It's quite possible it WAS english for the first 15-20 minutes, and you got "slapped awake" when they swapped speakers and they chose to use official language #2.

 

You have just taken all of the mystery out of this. :winknudge:

 

 

But you are probably right, Occam's razor.

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