Science & Tech

Differences between vowels and consonants are real

1 min read

Researchers solve one of the grand mysteries of language

While working with colleagues in Rome, two Harvard researchers serendipitously met two women with intriguing speech deficits. As the result of a stroke, one patient could not reproduce the sounds of vowels properly. Another patient experienced the same trouble with consonants. After studying the two women, the Harvard team concluded that the difference between vowels and consonants must be real, not arbitrary. “It’s a happy ending to many years of work,” said researcher Doriana Chialant. “We’re excited about answering a question that has been around for such a long time, excited about reaching a definite conclusion that people possess separate mechanisms to process vowels and consonants. Such mechanisms must be in the brain. Where else could they be?”