Two conceptions of the emergence of phonemic structure

Foundations of Science 9 (4):415-435 (2004)
. Björn Lindbloms account of the emergence of phonemic structure is a central reference point in contemporary discussions of the emergence of language. I argue that there are two distinct, and largely orthogonal conceptions of emergence implicit in Lindbloms account. According to one conception (causal emergence), the process by which minimal pairs are generated is crucial to the claim that phonemic structure is emergent; according to the other conception (analytic emergence), the fact that segments are an abstraction from the physical signal is what is crucial to the description of phonemic structure as emergent. The purpose of distinguishing rather than conflating these two conceptions of emergence is not in the first instance to criticize Lindbloms account or to force us to choose between the two conceptions for consistency, but rather to give us a more detailed purchase on the notoriously thorny concept of emergent explanation.
Keywords emergence  language origins  phonemes  speech
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DOI 10.1007/s10699-004-3064-0
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