Hearing Words in Your Head

In talking about speed reading, Scott H. Young mentions a word I hadn’t come across: Subvocalization. Not only do I do this while reading, but also while lipreading without my hearing aid as I explained in this post from my other blog.
I’m curious about those who are deaf especially those who primarily communicate with ASL and don’t wear hearing aids. Do you “hear” things in your head while reading or lipreading?


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  1. I do!!! I wear bilateral hearing aids, and have some hearing, but when im lipreading from accross the room, I usually hear the persons voice in my head!!! or even if i dont know the parson at all, I usually pic up on an accent or ‘type’ of voice just from watching their lips and body language!! its very strange!! 🙂

    • anon on April 2, 2007 at 11:32 am
    • Reply

    For me, I do the same thing…
    In fact, while a student at Gallaudet not so long ago, I read a research article by LaSasso or Ertig that somewhat concluded those deaf people who do vocalize the words in their heads generally have better reading skills than those who don’t. I think it’s because of phonics, but am not sure.

  2. When I read, I have a movie playing in my head.
    Anon – can you find that research?

    • BEG on April 2, 2007 at 12:19 pm
    • Reply

    I will “hear” what I am reading, and I “hear” a lot of sounds that I know (can see or feel) are happening but do not actually hear. I wear two HA. I was not taught with phonics, though 😉

  3. My parents (both of them are Deaf) told me I began to read and write at age 2. It was before I went to school at age 4. Even after we moved to the United States from Holland, I continue to love reading. I am not sound-oriented at all, and I don’t hear words in my head at all. I’m just amazed by how persistent the researchers (presumable hearing) could be in attributing Deaf people’s success to the English phonics.

  4. Hmm, I don’t “hear” words while lipreading… I just see it as is.
    But when I read an English book, I envisioned in signs ALONG with lipreading aside so I can practice my English.
    I usually memorize English words through lipreading–
    It drives my husband crazy because I will ask: “what is that word that means to leave… it looks like this: (mouthing) EUUUUD EUUUD….?”
    Him: “oh Elude?”
    ME: “YES! Spell that for me again…”
    So it is not all about acoustics for me, but rather the VISUAL aspect– how the mouth moves for a certain word– and to match that word with a sign or classifier for me to understand its meaning.
    (Worse, sometimes I do think with CC– yes CLOSED CAPTIONED– while I think in signs but there is CC beneath for me to read… Scary.)

  5. Hi. They call this “Phantom Hearing.” Check out the post I wrote on my experience of this at:
    ~ LaRonda

    • SkyBlue on April 2, 2007 at 9:35 pm
    • Reply

    You will want to check out some research by Perfetti and Sandek (not sure that’s the right spelling) from Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. Back in the late 90s and early 00s. They talk about this.

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