8. From Ear to Brain. Though this stage is in a sense the mirror image of stage 4, "From brain to speech organs," there are two important differences. First, when the message went from A's brain to his speech organs, it was transmitted as a string of discrete segments; but since it was then turned into a "smeared continuum" by A's speech organs, this is the shape in which it now reaches B's brain. Second, speaker A was able to send the message only because, somewhere inside his head, he possessed the proper code; hearer B, however, can receive all the energy in the message whether he knows the code or not— though of course he can do nothing further with it unless he does know the same code. We can "hear" all there is to hear in a foreign language message; wc can "understand" the message only if we also know the foreign language code. 9, 10, 11. Phonological, Grammatical, and Semantic Decoding. Though wc surely use these three different types of decoding when we hear and understand a message, the evidence suggests that we do not use them in a step-by-step procedure but rather race back and forth from one to the other, picking up all the information we can get. Suppose, for example, that we receive a message which we tentatively decode phonologically as, "I hope this'll suture plans." A quick check with the grammatical component of the code reveals that there is indeed a morpheme suture marked "transitive verb" (that is to say, we know that one can "suture something"), so all is well for the moment. But a check farther up the line in the semantic component tells us that one just does not "suture plans/* so something must be wrong.
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