Wolfgang von Kempelen


Wolfgang von Kempelen was an 18th century Hungarian lawyer, physicist, and engineer, who built a mechanical speech synthesizer. The machine was able to produce connected speech. He published a detailed description of his device and experience with it in a 1791 volume Mechanismus der menschlichen sprache. The first few chapters of his book were devoted to the existing literature on speech production and the phonological system of different languages.

von Kemplen's speech synthesizer

Von Kempelen hoped that his machine might be used to help cure “some of those persons who have defective pronunciation” (MacNamee, 1984, p. 417).

Writings about Wolfgang von Kempelen

Dudley, Homer and Tarnoczy T.H. (1950) The speaking machine of Wolfgang von Kempelen. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 22, 2, 151–166.

MacNamee, T. (1984). Normativity in 18th century discourse on speech, Journal of Communication Disorders, 17, 6, 407-423.

Ondrejovic, Slavomir (1996). Wolfgang von Kempelen and his “mechanism of human speech. Retrieved on July 7, 2010 from http://www.ling.su.se/staff/hartmut/cache/ondr_en.htm.