Spotlight on Science: Speechscapes & Whale-igraphy, by Howard Pines

July 11, 2017

Free Public Event

6:00pm – 7:30pm

Location: 338 N. Main St., Fort Bragg, Ca

The remarkable similarities between human speech and Humpback whale vocalizations


Northern California and Mendocino Coast speech scientist and author Howard Steven Pines will describe an exciting discovery about the complexity of humpback whale vocalizations. Applying cutting-edge analytical techniques to the study of whale songs recorded by Maui’s Pacific Whale Foundation, Pines found striking similarities in the phonetic architectures of human speech and humpback vocalizations: stunning, quantitative evidence for the basis of a potentially complex language! He recently presented his research at the 176th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Victoria, Canada. The research paper with details of his findings can be downloaded from the Acoustical Society’s website at .

Pines’ research and writing are informed by a twenty-five-year Silicon Valley software engineering career that has led to five patents in wireless voice technology. While adapting digital voice and modem algorithms for communication devices, he became fascinated by the acoustical and articulatory foundations of speech. He recognized a connection between the natural process that created spoken language and the design of digital voice technology: that both had found the solution predicted by a fundamental law of communication theory. This realization inspired the current whale song research project and the book The Whale Song Translation.