Lip reading

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Apart from the lips

Lip reading or reticle refers to the visual recognition of what is spoken through the speaker's lip movements. The different positions of the lips and the mouth region, including the tongue position that is visible from the outside, are called the mouth image .

Alternative names

Alternatively are or were u. a. also the terms lip reading and reading for short in use. Today, the relevant specialist literature no longer speaks of “lip reading” or “lip reading”, but at best of disregarding the mouth or disregarding the lips . More recent research even avoids these terms and uses the more comprehensive term reticle  - or speaks of visual communication , since the decoding of lip movements is only one element of the process of understanding.

Areas of application

Deaf and severely hard of hearing cannot grasp the phonetic signs, or only to a small extent, when communicating verbally. You are therefore dependent on the technique of lip reading in direct contact with other speakers. Lip reading is not the only means of communication. There are alternative possibilities with sign language and with written communication.

Sign language can also contain words or coded symbols that are partially represented with visions , which are not necessarily pronounced acoustically. Here, too, the technique of lip reading is used.

Even the hard of hearing, who are provided with a hearing aid , can only recognize fragments of the phonetic signs from time to time; they then also use lip reading in parallel to hearing.

To a certain extent, people with unimpaired hearing also use this technique unconsciously to supplement or secure the understanding of the hearing impression ( McGurk effect ). In these cases, this side effect only penetrates the consciousness if, for example, in an originally foreign language film , the translation of the synchronization means that the position of the mouth is significantly different than if it corresponded to the sound heard.

In forensic science, face images are evaluated by experts when recording images if no sound recording is available. The missing sound recording can be replaced on the basis of the visual images, and it can thus be determined what the recorded people spoke or what language they used.


When you speak, your lips move in a certain way. By observing and comparing the lip movements, patterns for certain sounds or words can be derived. These patterns, which have been learned consciously or unconsciously, basically allow continuous reading of spoken language from the mouth.

The execution and position of the visions are systematically aware to a certain extent , especially in the field of deaf education and education for the hard of hearing , and can be illustrated. In this area, lip reading is practiced as a learning process with the practical demonstration and "reading" exercise of typical mouth positions and sequences of face images .

Teachers in the field of deaf and hard of hearing education consciously often speak with particularly accentuated mouth movements and more slowly than in normal everyday life as well as with constant visual contact with the students. Even laypeople who come into frequent contact with the deaf or hard of hearing (such as work colleagues) often get used to an optimized way of speaking, which makes lip reading easier.

There are people who speak with atypical or indistinct mouth movements. Hearing impaired people, who rarely meet such people, can only lip read to a limited extent in these cases. However, a hearing-impaired person who is in frequent speech contact with such a person can lip-read successfully even under these unfavorable circumstances through the unconscious intensive training.


Of the sounds in the German language, only about 15% can be recognized with some degree of clarity by their mouth. In many cases, different, but aurally similar words have almost identical visions. For example, butter and nut , tire and gripping or eighty and has the visual impression of the lip movements indistinguishable. Even those who are hard of hearing who, despite additional hearing aids, sometimes only recognize fragments of what is being spoken with their hearing and also absorb information, also in fragments, by reading it, have to deduce the meaning from the context during the short period of perception. With larger scope - z. B. a lecture - is this very exhausting or even impossible.

Therefore, despite lip reading, the deaf and hard of hearing find it difficult to absorb what is spoken, especially to a large extent. The gap-filled text , which results from fragmentary perception, can be supplemented with a lot of experience and knowledge of the context, so that experienced lip readers can read up to 30% of a text from their lips on known topics. People with little formal knowledge of the language and vocabulary are therefore less able to lip-read.

One of the things that is helpful to improve the recognition rate is a clear mouth image . It also makes sense to first briefly mention the topic or the scope of what you want to talk about. If the speaker supports his text with gestures or facial expressions, more content is recognized. Exaggeratedly clear pronunciation, on the other hand, does not help, because it distorts the lip positions and makes them model-like atypical. This also applies to extremely slow speaking. Unfavorable lighting conditions, mumbling or dialect-based pronunciation make lip reading difficult. Reading from the lips can only aid understanding.


  • Georg Alrich: On the recognizability of speech forms when reading from the mouth. Dissertation University of Bonn 1960.
  • Richard Luchsinger , Gottfried Eduard Arnold : Handbook of voice and speech medicine. 3rd, completely revised and significantly expanded edition in 2 volumes. Springer, Vienna a. a. 1970:
  • Willibald Wagenbach: If you can't hear, you have to see! Volume 1: Exercises and suggestions for beginners and advanced users. 2nd, revised edition. Association for the hard of hearing Koblenz e. V. in the German Association of the Deaf V. , Koblenz 1980.
  • John Chaloner Woods: Lipreading. A guide for beginners. Royal National Institute for Deaf People, London 1991, ISBN 0-900634-58-8 (English).
  • Brigitte Eisenwort, Gundula Viehhauser, Wolfgang Bigenzahn: Reading training. Worksheets. Groos, Heidelberg 1992, ISBN 3-87276-676-7 .
  • Heribert Jussen , Martin Kloster-Jensen, Karl Heinz Wisotzki: Sound formation in the hearing impaired. Outline of a German language theory. 3rd, revised edition. Edition Marhold, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-89166-133-9 .
  • Harriet Kaplan, Scott J. Bally, Carol Garretson: Speechreading. A way to improve understanding. 2nd edition of the 1995 revised edition. Gallaudet University Press, Washington, DC 1999, ISBN 0-930323-32-7 (English).
  • Gerhart Lindner: Reticle - the other way to understand language. A guide to conversation for people with hearing loss. Luchterhand, Neuwied 1999, ISBN 3-472-03913-2 .
  • Karl Heinz Ramers: Introduction to Phonology. 2nd Edition. Fink, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-8252-2008-7 .
  • Thomas Kaul: Communication of hard of hearing adults (=  series of publications special education in research and practice , volume 4). Kovač, Hamburg 2003, ISBN 3-8300-0955-0 (also habilitation, University of Cologne 2000).
  • Sascha Fagel: Audiovisual speech synthesis. System development and evaluation (=  oral communication , volume 2). Logos, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-8325-0742-6 (also dissertation TU Berlin 2004).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. See the following technical article by the linguist Ele Engels, which was published on the online portal for deaf people
    Ele Engels: Understanding through seeing - or answers to the question “Can you actually read from your lips?” ( Memento of the original from January 25, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: March 2008. PDF; Retrieved July 25, 2017. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /