Science: Manual Voice

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Oh, Lila, I love you.

Hello, London, are you there?

Minnie . . . father . . . upper . . . rather. . . tata!

Radio listeners in the U. S. heard gibberish of this sort one day last week, pronounced in a queer, blurred, atonal voice like that of a person who has been stone deaf since birth. As a matter of fact the words, which came from London, were not spoken by a human being at all but were uttered by an apparatus in the hands of Sir Richard Paget, 69-year-old barrister, linguist, musician, acoustician, who clings to the old British tradition that well-disposed people of the aristocracy should take an interest in the arts and sciences.

Sir Richard believes that human speech is primitive, that gestures could be much more expressive. His voice apparatus is largely a metal and fabric tube which has parts corresponding to the larynx, tongue, and palate. He gets recognizable syllables by various arrangements of his hands on the mouthpieces. Air is furnished by a bellows which he operates with his foot. Although he designed it to show, by crude but effective imitation, the crudity of human speech, some U. S. listeners thought they could detect in its manual utterances a trace of British accent.