Narrator: This is Science Today. As voice recognition technology advances in the future, our natural speech patterns are increasingly important. Psycho linguist Jean Fox Tree of the University of California, Santa Cruz is studying natural speech patterns, including undesirable words such as um, ah, like and you know.
Fox Tree: I want to know what all of these words mean, how they are used in speech, how they are used by speakers, how they are used by listeners. It's the kind of pure research that really has applications for a lot of different areas. It has applications for people who are learning a second language obviously, because people use them constantly.
Narrator: And Fox Tree says it also has applications for people using speech recognition software, which may not recognize such words in natural speech.
Fox Tree: It's also really useful for artificial speech processing devices. So like, machines for a deaf person, where you'd hold the machine up to somebody's face and they'd talk and they'd be able to read what the person said. Because of the global market and because of intercommunication across all the people of the world, speech is going to become very important.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.