Mumbling Isn’t a Sign of Laziness—It’s a Clever Data-Compression Trick

Far from being a symptom of linguistic indifference or moral decay, mumbling displays an underlying logic similar to the>Photograph by Everett Collection / Shutterstock

any of us have been taught that pronouncing vowels indistinctly and dropping consonants are symptoms of slovenly speech, if not outright disregard for the English language. The Irish that speakers relaxed or dropped sounds in more than 60 percent of words spoken in conversation. Happily, the science of mumbling offers a far less judgmental—and more captivating—account of our imperfectly crisp pronunciations.

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