Re: Definition of masking (Chris Plack )

Subject: Re: Definition of masking
From:    Chris Plack  <cplack(at)ESSEX.AC.UK>
Date:    Fri, 2 Jul 1999 09:59:13 +0100

Hello Al, >How about this? > > "A sound is said to be masked when it is no longer audible due to the >presence of one or more other sounds. In everyday language, the sound is >'drowned out' by the other sound(s)." > Yes, I'd go along with this. My point was that it doesn't seem linguistically correct to use the word "masking" to mean the "amount", i.e., the second definition advocated by the ASA. As I understand it, the word "masking" is a gerund, a noun derived from a verb that retains some of its verbal attributes. In this respect, using it to mean a process makes more sense. So I'd say: "The masking is 20 dB" is incorrect, just as: "The driving is 10 hours" is incorrect. But it's OK to say: "20 dB of masking" or: "10 hours of driving" It's just a point that came up in some recent essays I marked. Incidentally, I notice in your definition that you seem to regard masking as being a process of "swamping" rather than including things like suppression or adaptation. I'm inclined to agree with you - the etymology of the word suggests something related to "obscuring" or "drowning out", rather than suppressing. The problem then is that to call something "masking" we need to be sure of the underlying process. For example, we shouldn't call the increase in threshold for a tone following a masker "forward masking" unless we can be sure that the process is one of swamping rather than, say, adaptation. Bests, Chris ******************************************************** Chris Plack - psychoacoustician, pop star Department of Psychology, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ, UK. Tel: (01206) 873493 Fax: (01206) 873590 ********************************************************

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