In his website editorial titled “The Impending Spondee Crisis: Audiology in the Age of the Millennial,” published at www.audiology.org (June 14, 2016), author Frank Bialostozky is thinking in the right direction about the impending spondee crisis but his thinking doesn’t go far enough.
Mr. Bialostozky proposes updating the spondee word list to include “words” more familiar to gen-x’ers and millennials such as cashcow and brainfreeze. The main problem with this line of reasoning is that most people who are currently dealing with hearing loss are either baby boomers (1946–1965) or, like me, pre-baby boomers.
Just based on demographics, I think we can wait a few years before considering more modern words as replacements for the “ancient” spondaic words currently in use. That being said, somewhat rhetorically, the change that needs to be made in the spondee list is their elimination from the routine audiological test battery.
The time spent gathering speech-threshold data, which provides little or no information about the functioning of the auditory system, can be better spent on an instrument that tells us something about important areas of auditory function.
My suggestion is that the time devoted to establishing speech-recognition thresholds with spondee words would be better spent on a speech-in-noise tasks that address the most common complaint expressed by older individuals with sensorineural hearing loss: an inability to understand speech in a noisy background.
Richard H. Wilson, PhD