Whether you’ve just received a hearing implant or have had one for some time, there may be different hearing-related words and phrases you’ll come across. All these different terms in the hearing world can get pretty confusing! So, we have put together the list below to help you navigate these conversations with your hearing or medical professional.
Terms Related To How Your Brain Interacts With Sound
1. Listening: paying attention to any sound, or making an effort to hear a specific sound.
2. Hearing: being able to perceive sound.
3. Detection: being able to notice the existence of a sound.
4. Discrimination: recognizing the difference between one sound and other sounds.
5. Speech: the physical process of making a sound with the lips, tongue, and other speech organs.
6. Language: a system of symbols or sounds used to communicate thoughts, emotions, and more.
Terms Related to Hearing
7. Chronological age: how old someone is, as measured from their date of birth.
8. Hearing age: how long someone has been wearing an effective hearing loss solution, like a hearing aid or hearing implant. This is often used to give a more accurate representation of someone’s auditory development, rather than using their age in years since birth.
9. Environmental sounds: all non-speech sounds that exist in everyday life, like the telephone ringing, birds chirping, or traffic noise.
Terms Related to Language
10. Expressive language: spoken or signed language used to show thoughts, intentions, or emotions.
11. Body language: using gestures, facial expressions, or body movements to communicate physically; this can be either instead of, or as well as, oral communication.
12. Communication: speaking or exchanging information through interaction with other people.
13. Vocalization: any sound a person produces.
14. Oral language: the same thing as spoken language.
15. Gesture: moving a part of the body to communicate, like pointing at an object or waving to say “hello”.
16. Babbling: producing vocal sounds that repeat the same syllable, like “ba-ba”. Or, using a sequence of similar syllables like “ba-ma-ba-ma”.
17. Jargon: the variety of syllables and sounds said by babies that sound like speech, but is not real language.
18. Pre-verbal stage: when babies and infants interact with their environment by babbling and using jargon, instead of using real words.
19. Prelingual: the time before someone develops spoken language.
20. Consonant-like sounds: a baby’s first sounds, before and during their babbling phase, which sound like consonants but are not yet perfect.
21. Consonants: the letters and sounds of a language that are not vowels, and which require the speaker to completely close his or her throat, mouth, or lips; b, f, m, and t are examples of consonants in the English language.
22. Utterance: a continuous vocalization or phrase. If using language, this could be saying a sentence.
23. Phoneme: the shortest unit of sound that can be recognized, like /k/ or /t/. Phonemes are the building blocks of syllables and words.
24. Syllable: a unit of a word. For example, there are three syllables in processor (pro-cess-or), and two in water (wa-ter).
Terms Related to Hearing Assessment
25. Decibel: a measurement of the loudness of the sound, like if it is loud or soft. This measurement is often abbreviated to “dB”—the lower the number of decibels, the quieter the sound is.
26. Frequency: a measurement of the pitch of sound, like if it’s a high-pitch or low-pitch sound. This is often measured in Hertz (Hz), with a lower-pitch being a smaller number.
27. Intensity: another way of saying “loudness” when referring to sound.
28. Fitting: the process of setting the cochlear implant audio processor’s program so that it is customized to its user; sometimes called “programming” or “mapping”.
29. Hearing aid trial: the 2–3 month test period where someone tries out their hearing aids to find out if it is an adequate hearing loss solution for them.
30. Implicit learning: learning something naturally, something not taught or demonstrated directly.
Still confused about a term you’ve heard? Remember, you can always talk with your hearing specialist, such as your audiologist, therapist, or teacher of the deaf, to understand more.
This post was written by Donna Sperandio, the Head of MED-EL Rehabilitation.
Are there any terms that you would add to this list? Let us know in a comment below!
Subscribe to the MED-EL Blog by entering your email below to get the latest rehabilitation tips delivered straight to your inbox every week!