Loud speaker

I live in Denmark where people speak Danish. One interesting word that I use every day is “højtaler” which is the Danish word for “loudspeaker”. I say that this word is “interesting” because, just like “loudspeaker” it is actually two words glued together. “Høj” means “high” or “loud” and “taler” means “talker” or “speaker” (as in “the person who is doing the talking”).

Sometimes, when I have a couple of minutes to spare, instead of looking at cat videos on YouTube, I sift through old audio and electronics magazines for fun. One really good source for these is the collection at worldradiohistory.com. (archive.org is also good!). Today I stumbled across the December, 1921 edition of Practical Electrics Magazine (which changed its name to The Experimenter in November of 1924 and then to Amazing Stories in April 1926*) It had a short description of a stage trick called the “Haunted Violin”, an excerpt from which is shown below.

The trick was that a violin, held by a woman walking around the aisle of the theatre would appear to play itself. In fact, as you can see above, there was an incognito violinist with a “detectophone” that was transmitting through wires connected to metal plates under the carpet in the theatre. The woman was wearing shoes with heels pointy enough to pierce the carpet and make contact with the plates. The heels were then connected with wires running through her dress to a “loud talker” hidden inside the violin.

Seems that, in 1921, it would have been easier to learn at least one word in Danish…

Side note: This is why, when I’m writing about audio systems I try as hard as possible to always use the word “loudspeaker” instead of “speaker”. To me, a “speaker” is a person giving a speech. A “loudspeaker” is a thing I complain about every day at work.

* That April 1926 edition of Amazing Stories had short stories by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Edgar Allan Poe!

Post Script:
My wife reminded me that it’s the same in French: “haut-parleur”. It’s a reminder that the original loudspeakers were never intended for music, I suppose…