Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

Ask-A-Linguist Message Details

Subject: Leak-back effect. The time words remain in 'air'.
Question: A long time ago I secured for my sociology courses a videotape featuring a sociolinguist. The speaker was an older lady who sat in a rocking chair and dispensed valuable information. One of the things she said is that words have a leak-back effect. So, if warriors say, for example, ''A number of people in Iraq were killed in the theater,'' then a listener hears ''theater'' and it ''leaks back'' to ''kill'' and the horror of killing lightens and is made more palatable. Googling, I don't see anything about this ''leak-back'' effect. Maybe it's called something else now? I need to have this information for a book I am writing where it is oh-so-relevant! Also, I have read that words (maybe it's ''sound''?) lasts for six seconds before dissipating. That's why we listen to someone and a short time afterward (before the elapse of six seconds), it dawns on us what the person really said: ''Huh? Did I hear you say what I think I heard you say . . . ?'' Can you provide me with links where these two phenomena are briefly discussed? ASAP, please? Thank you. Lee Campbell, PhD. 941,457-6785
Reply: I don't know about a "leak-back" effect, unless it's related to the old idea of a semantic differential, in which the connotation of words can have an effect on neighboring words.The second phenomenon you mentioned has to do with short-term or working memory. The flip side of that is that if someone interrupts you while you're talking, it's often difficult to get back to what you were saying.
Reply From: Susan D Fischer      click here to access email
Date: 11-Feb-2013

Back to Most Recent Questions