Page 16 - Summer2019
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Early Talking Automata
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Figure 3. Kempelens speaking machine. A and B: phetegraphs ef the mechanism exhibited in the Deutsches Museum in Munich. Germany,
theught te lie a reeenstruetion of the original. c and D: eorrespenaling illustrations from Kempelerl (1791). D: details shown (see text fer
aziseussien) include the bellows (X), the lmx containing the Vibrating reeaz (A), and the mouth tube (61 the other pipes (m and n) and levers
(1 and sch) are extra meehfieanens needed fer m1sals,fn'mtiVes, and trills. phetegraphs repreelueeaz from the Deutsehes Museum, Munich,
Germany, with permission. Copyright Deutsehes Museum, Munchen, Archiv, BN37402 and BN37404.

The same elements persisted from previous attempts. A pair Most importantly, following Engramelle and Vaucanson, a
of bellows and a tube mimicked the lungs and trachea and a pinned cylinder was turned to activate the different articula-
set of valves directed airflow into a collection of boxes. The tions in sequence, and the position of the pins could be altered
entry of each box was covered with a leather diaphragm over to program whole sentences. Examples of utterances given in
an elliptical hole representing the glottis, while a parchment newspaper reports from the period include single vowels, ll. 2.
reed covering the hole vibrated like the vocal folds; by moving and 0; diphthongs, oa; syllables, pe, la, 12, fe, fat", in, and 10; and
a metal tongue over the reed, the tone could be adjusted. The the following extended series of sentences mimicking a conver-
different actuators shaping the inside of each box simulated sation between the two heads that was presented before Louis
movements of the vocal tract with levers and shutters pulled XVI at Versailles in September 1783 (see Figure 4 for transla-
by cords. Vowels and diphthongs were produced by connect- tion). The 1st Head begins, “Le Roi dorme la pnix Li l’Eur0pe";
ing particular boxes in sequence. Stops were produced by the 2nd Head replies, “La paix amnmrle 12 R01" dz gloire”; the
rapidly opening and closing shutters over the ends of boxes. 1st Head responds to the 2nd head, “Er Ia pnixfnit le bimheur
Fricatives were synthesized by silencing the reed and blowing des peuples”; and then addresses the King, “0 R01" adorable,
air into the boxes. Trills were produced by a special vibrating pére de vos peuples, leur bonheurfait voir Li l’Eumpe la gloire dz
reed. Syllables were produced by sequences of movements votre mine.” Public reaction was divided. Many thought the
built into the actuators for each box. Unlike previous mecha- display was sensational as proof that speech could be synthe-
nisms, the boxes seem to have modeled dynamic articulations sized mechanically, whereas others complained that they could
approximating specific consonant-vowel combinations. barely understand what was being said.

14 | Anni.-sis-1t.stgy| Summer 2019

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