The 2nd Topic
“Learning technique of ventriloquists”

This is the 2nd one.

Last time, we explained that you needed to practice many times in order to speak correctly with a regulator in your mouth, and the practice was not a special one, but you needed just keep speaking. This time, we will write about “Learning technique of ventriloquists”

Speaking underwater, you will know that there are some words you cannot pronounce no matter how hard you try. The most difficult pronunciations are “b”, “p”, and “m” which you have to close your lips to pronounce. Underwater, you cannot close your lips because you have a regulator in your mouth. Try pronouncing “b”, “p”, and “m” in that situation. You may be surprised to know that nothing you can do.

We call such phonemes the “hard sounds”. Can we pronounce well those the “hard sounds” having regulators in our mouths? The answer, of course, is “No”.

Does this situation remind you something?

Yes, it is ventriloquism. A famous ventriloquist shows his amazing skill to the audience when he sings Scatman as “Pah, pa la pa, pa, pa” which has lots of “p” sounds with his mouth closed completely. We hear that he has earned the technique through the hardest practice for years. If you acquire such technique, you will be able to pronounce the “hard sounds” correctly even with a regulator in your mouth. However, we, as ordinary divers, cannot earn such technique.

But, don’t worry. Actually, many ventriloquists cannot pronounce the “hard sounds” perfectly. Still, they usually get success on their shows. Why is that? In fact, ventriloquists have acquired various techniques in order to pronounce the “hard sounds”. The techniques we can use are hidden there.

This time, we will introduce them.

Ventriloquists’ primary and the most important technique is not to speak the “hard sounds”. Ventriloquists make stories consisted of dialogues with a doll, and words spoken in the stories are already decided. They can only avoid using the “hard sounds” in the scripts. For example, the word “boy” can be replaced with “guy”. In this way, you can eliminate the “hard sounds” in the scripts which requires closing your lips. Just avoid using such words. Come to think of that, that’s the key.

Let’s use this technique in diving. It’s difficult to distinguish the “hard sounds” and other sounds before speaking. Speak first, and if you cannot pronounce well, restate what you said with different way. For example, “m” in “Move” is a hard sound. Saying “Move” with having a regulator in your mouth, you will notice that you cannot pronounce “m” well. In this case, just say “Go” instead. Conversation will be clearer only by this.

The second technique of ventriloquists is replacement of the “hard sounds”.
Suppose that you have to say “manatee”. In this word, the “hard sound” “m” is contained. However, “manatee” is “manatee”, and you cannot replace other word with no “hard sound”. In this situation, how do ventriloquists manage the problem? They replace the hard sound with other phonemes. They replace “b” with “d”, “p” with “t”, “m” with “n”. Because “m” in manatee can be replaced with “n”, you pronounce it “nanatee”.

Can a receiver understand it is “manatee” when hearing “nanatee”? In fact, we get it when we know the word “manatee”. Our brains interpret in that manner. But, if we don’t know the word, we don’t get it. Our brains are very powerful and flexible. Suppose you hear “See ★▲ again” when you said “good bye” to your friend, you hear “See you again” correctly. This is a psychological phenomenon called “restoration of sound”, and our brains predict the sound to be heard. The words brain can predict are heard correctly and clearly even they have some parts we can’t hear technically.

Let’s try this “restoration of sound” of psychological phenomenon in diving. Tell the words you may say underwater to your buddies in advance. If you are a tour guide, tell your guests in advance “There are “manatees” in this area. If I find it, I will call out “manatee””. In this way, each brain interprets correctly and if they hear “★natee”, they understand it is “manatee”.

It is very effective to decide words/sentences frequently used underwater in advance with your buddies. We recommend you to share and speak these sentences such as “Are you OK?”, “How much air left?”, “Go up”, and “Watch out” with your buddies before diving. It would be perfect if you say these words/sentences with a regulator in your mouth to your buddies beforehand. By this practice, you can communicate underwater smoothly.

Even though our brains are so powerful and flexible, they will give up predicting the words or sentences if they are too long.

As a result, we don’t understand what others say. A few words are proper length for brains to predict underwater. The tip of underwater communication is to speak words used frequently, and speak short. We also recommend you to speak slowly to give brain more room.

These are effective techniques for divers to overcome the “hard sounds”.
Here is summary.

  1. Not to speak the “hard sounds”. Replace with other words.
  2. Before diving, share and speak words/sentences to speak underwater with each other.
  3. Speak words or short sentences slowly.

This is the end of 2nd topic.Please try the ventriloquists’ techniques in diving.

Lastly, we would like to write about our future dream.

We, Yamagata Casio have been researching the system to convert the “hard sounds” to clear ones, cooperating with Professor Tetsuo Kosaka of Yamagata University, who is an expert in voice recognition. In Japan, with support of 30 divers, we collected total 60 hours voices underwater, and we are analyzing them now. Recently, we started collecting 30 divers’ underwater voices in U.S. This much underwater voice data have been rarely collected worldwide. They are really valuable. At present, we haven’t realized converting the “hard sounds” to clear ones we can hear correctly yet. We will carry on developing the system to surpass ventriloquists some day.