In the 90s if my friend and I wanted to avoid eavesdroppers, we spoke in our secret language. We learned it from a book. It didn’t take long for us to fire off sentences on the bus or playground, smirking conspiratorially as other kids stared with heads tilted and eyebrows up. I’m not going to write out a line because I’m certain you’ll figure out the trick and then I’ll be bummed the secret language isn’t quite so secret anymore. Let’s leave it at this: Amy of The Big Bang Theory speaks it–The Skank Reflex Analysis, S5: E1–and, well…nerds unite.
My penchant for fast speech remains. Anytime I’m relaxing with an audiobook, as I acclimate to the narrator’s speech rhythm I’ll bump it up to 1.5x or even a 2x playback level. My mind keeps pace, but it’s definitely a learned habit. I can’t take any performer and immediately speed her up and expect 100% comprehension. I must fall into the speech cadence before activating the linguistic sprint.
Where did this ability come from? It would be easy to say it’s because of my visual impairment. With poor sight, clearly, I now use a superpower ability to hear twice as fast. No, not really. Although with less brain power translating visual input, I certainly focus more on audio input. And, it’s a scientific fact humans process sound faster than sight. According to auditory neuroscientist Seth Horowitz in a Radiolab interview, “it takes our brain at least one-quarter of a second to process visual recognition…You can recognize a sound in 0.05 seconds”
We are wired for sound input, yet have you noticed our world leans toward visual input? Interesting. Anyway. It’s like I trained my brain from a young age. Family gatherings tend to be times where lots of food and drinks are consumed and people are constantly talking over one another and it’s normal. Riding around in the car searching for a good song as teens, my sister and I wielded a sharp reflex in identifying songs by a few notes. Lunch in the cafeteria in high school was a time of simultaneous conversations. In college, all of us coxswains on the rowing team seemed to be speedy talkers. Issuing commands and keeping a boat on course demands prompt action, but I’m including time off the water, boats stored and books out.
On TV, as they ran gurneys and sick patients around hallways, the doctors on E.R. rattled off medical instructions and directives. One of the reasons I love shows like Gilmore Girls and The West Wing are for their signature “walk and talks” in every episode. Characters discuss something as they walk around the town, a campus, or the cramped quarters of the White House and the camera keeps rolling for a long shot as the conversation flows. It’s exciting.
But not everyone likes the fast talk. Stockton says my audiobooks sound like a machine on warp speed and I’ve heard many guys admit they can’t handle the quips on Gilmore Girls. Their loss, I say. I’m still hooked. (And I’m looking forward to four new episodes of GG’s, thank you, Netflix 2016.) With no end in sight to books I want to listen to and shows I watch and relationships I cherish, fast talking–whether in plain English or otherwise–lingers on in my life.
How about you? Are you a code-talker? Do you keep up with snappy dialogue? Have you caught yourself talking in abbreviations? What shows do you watch that feature walk and talks? Have you inhaled in the last twenty seconds? Tell me about it.