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Words Used in Auditory Display Research.

Like all good fields of computing research, auditory display is not without its technical words (jargon). Being a relatively new field the vocabulary available is insufficient to describe all the new ideas and thus the various researchers have, where needed, coined to words to describe their work.

I have attempted to gather together all the terms currently in use and to provide a definition of each. Where existing words have been used I have simply provided the definition as given in Chambers English Dictionary and suffixed by [Ch]. Where an additional meaning has been applied to an existing word the definition is given and its source shown in brackets.

The second group of terms is those that have been coined by researchers into auditory display. The researchers' own definitions are given and the source in brackets.

Sources of Definitions

[Ch] = Chambers English Dictionary

[AD] = Auditory Display, ed. Gregory Kramer, Proc. Vol XVIII Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity; Addison-Wesley Reading MA, 1994.

Definitions from Auditory Display, unless prefixed by an author's name are provided by Gregory Kramer.

Dictionary Definitions


Audient - adj. listening: paying attention. - n. a hearer [Ch].


Audile - adj. pertaining to hearing. - n. one inclined to think in terms of sound. [Ch]. C.f. visile.


Audio - n. reproduction of recorded or broadcast sounds (also adj) [Ch].


Audition - n. the sense, or an act, of hearing [Ch].


Auditive - adj. of, or related to, hearing [Ch].


Auditory - adj. relating to the sense of hearing.


Aural- adj. pertaining to the ear - adv. aurally [Ch].

bulletSynaesthesia, in US synesthesia - n.
  1. sensation produced at a point different from the point of stimulation: a sensation of another kind suggested by one experience (e.g. in colour-hearing). - adv. synaesthetic [Ch].
  2. n. the substitution of one sensory modality for another [AD pp 11].
bulletVisile - adj. of or pertaining to sight: learning by means of visual images and recalling such images readily. - n. one whose imagery naturally takes a visual form [Ch]. C.f. audile.

Coined Terms

bulletAudiation - n. The mental review of sonic experiences with an auditory display [AD pp 188]. C.f. ideation - n. the power of the mind for forming ideas [Ch].
bulletAudification - n. the direct playback of data samples [AD pp xxvii]: the direct conversion of data to sound [AD pp 190]. C.f. sonification.
bulletAudiolisation - n. see auralisation.
bulletAuditory icon - n. a mapping of computer events and attributes to the events and attributes that normally make sounds...In general, the result is to relate interface sounds to their referents in the same way that natural sounds are related to their sources and, thus, to allow people to use their existing everyday listening skills in listening to computers [Gaver, AD pp 420]: a cariacture of sounds occurring as a result of our everyday interactions with the world ... mapped onto events and objects in the interface about which [it provides] auditory feedback [Lucas, An Evaluation of the Communicative Ability of Auditory Icons and Earcons, 1994]. C.f earcon. An auditory icon uses sound effects whereas earcon is music-based.
bulletAuralisation - n. the auditory representation or "imaging" of data [AD pp xxvii]: the representation of program data using auralisation is based on the actual execution data of the program [Jackson, AD pp 292]. C.f. sonification.
bulletEarcon - n. tone or sequence of tones as a basis for building messages [Blattner, AD pp 450]: a nonverbal audio message used in the user-computer interface to provide information to the user about some computer object, operation, or interaction: the aural counterpart of an icon [Blattner et al. Earcons and Icons: Their Structure and Common Design Principles, 1989]. C.f. auditory icon.
bulletSonification - n. a mapping of numerically represented relations in some domain under study to relations in an acoustic domain for the purposes of interpreting, understanding, or communicating relations in the domain under study [Scaletti, AD pp 224]: data-controlled sound [AD pp xxvii]: "Processes that disrupt the relationships of successive samples in favour of simplifying and enhancing features of the data, such as multiplying the data by a cosine wave, would be classified as sonification [AD pp 190].