A simple English quiz that you will fail and what it reveals about hearing loss

By Dr. Anne Simon

March 1, 2017

Let's start with a simple English quiz - shall we?

Count how many times the letter “f” appears in the following sentence.

"These functional fuses have been developed after years of scientific investigation of electric phenomena, combined with the fruit of long experience on the part of the two investigators who have come forward with them for our meetings today."

Native English speakers underestimate the number of times “f” appears in the sentence. In fact, they do worse on this test than people who have just started learning English.

I’ve yet to meet a person who speaks fluent English to count more than 9 “f” in the sentence.  The most common answer is 6 or 7.

The correct answer, however, is 11!

“These Functional Fuses have been developed aFter years oF scientiFic investigation oF electric phenomena, combined with the Fruit oF long experience on the part oF the two investigators who have come Forward with them For our meetings today.”

Embarrassing disclosure: I myself just got 7 the first time!

Why do experienced English speakers do worse than beginner English speakers on a simple English quiz?

Experienced speakers pronounce the word “of” with a “v” sound, and because of their habit of reading like they speak, they have more difficulty detecting the occurrences of the letter “f” than do inexperienced speakers.

Experience actually diminishes awareness!

What makes hearing loss so hard to respond to?

Your experience of your own hearing—as it is diminishes a little bit at a time—makes it harder to notice the loss.

Just as the “f” in “of” starts looking like a “v,” your awareness of what you aren’t hearing fades. Hearing loss comes on gradually. So gradual in fact, that you can easily not notice from one day to the next the loss.

Is it time for a hearing test? Here are some clues that will help you determine:

  • You frequently ask other talkers to repeat what they just said.
  • Other people mumble.
  • You have disagreement over how loud the TV is.
  • You have trouble hearing at restaurants or other social engagements.
  • You tend to avoid social engagements, because you find them draining.

If you experience difficulties with communication, you should give us a call at 208-746-7022.

Keywords: hearing loss
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