Statistical learning is often taken to lie at the heart of many cognitive tasks, including the acquisition of language. One particular task in which probabilistic models have achieved considerable success is the segmentation of speech into words. However, these models have mostly been tested against English data, and as a result little is known about how a statistical learning mechanism copes with input regularities that arise from the structural properties of different languages. This study focuses on statistical word segmentation in (...) Arabic, a Semitic language in which words are built around consonantal roots. We hypothesize that segmentation in such languages is facilitated by tracking consonant distributions independently from intervening vowels. Previous studies have shown that human learners can track consonant probabilities across intervening vowels in artificial languages, but it is unknown to what extent this ability would be beneficial in the segmentation of natural language. We assessed the performance of a Bayesian segmentation model on English and Arabic, comparing consonant-only representations with full representations. In addition, we examined to what extent structurally different proto-lexicons reflect adult language. The results suggest that for a child learning a Semitic language, separating consonants from vowels is beneficial for segmentation. These findings indicate that probabilistic models require appropriate linguistic representations in order to effectively meet the challenges of language acquisition. (shrink)
A tendency of auditory cortical neurons to respond at the beginning of major transitions in sounds rather than providing a continuously updated spectral-temporal profile may impede the generation of combination-sensitivity for certain classes of stimuli. Potential consequences of the cortical encoding of voiced stop-consonants on representational principles derived from orderly output constraints are discussed.
Resumen: Este artículo tiene como foco de estudio la fonología segmental del mapudungun, en general, y el estatus de los fonos interdentales /en el chedungun hablado en Alto Biobío, en particular. Se elicitó una lista léxica adaptada de Croese, 30 colaboradores adultos, bilingües de chedungun y español, pertenecientes a 10 localidades pehuenches de esta comuna. Mediante evidencia cuantitativa, visual, palatográfica y de contraste en ambiente análogo, se concluye que dichos fonos tienen estatus fonémico en la zona señalada.: This article focuses (...) on the Mapudungún segmental phonology in general, and the status of the interdental phones / from the Chedungun spoken in Alto Biobío in particular. An adapted lexicon list by Croese was elicited from 30 adult bilingual assistants, belonging to 10 towns of this community. Through the quantitative, visual, palatographic and analog environment contrast we concluded that those phones have phonemic status in the mentioned area. (shrink)
The change of the Greek aspirates into the voiceless spirants of the modern language was already beginning to appear in some of the ancient dialects. The intermediate stage in this development is naturally that of affricates, ph, th, kh, becoming pf, tp, kx respectively, a stage seen in such spellings as μετνλλακχóτα. The evidence of the inscriptions shows that the change was not readily effected in Attic, and the clearest mark of this conservatism is the interchange of aspirates and tenues.
Cross-situational statistical learning of words involves tracking co-occurrences of auditory words and objects across time to infer word-referent mappings. Previous research has demonstrated that learners can infer referents across sets of very phonologically distinct words, but it remains unknown whether learners can encode fine phonological differences during cross-situational statistical learning. This study examined learners’ cross-situational statistical learning of minimal pairs that differed on one consonant segment, minimal pairs that differed on one vowel segment, and non-minimal pairs that differed on two (...) or three segments. Learners performed above chance for all pairs, but performed worse on vowel minimal pairs than on consonant minimal pairs or non-minimal pairs. These findings demonstrate that learners can encode fine phonetic detail while tracking word-referent co-occurrence probabilities, but they suggest that phonological encoding may be weaker for vowels than for consonants. (shrink)
The species-specific organizational property of speech is a continual mouth open-close alternation, the two phases of which are subject to continual articulatory modulation. The cycle constitutes the syllable, and the open and closed phases are segments framescontent displays that are prominent in many nonhuman primates. The new role of Broca's area and its surround in human vocal communication may have derived from its evolutionary history as the main cortical center for the control of ingestive processes. The frame and content components (...) of speech may have subsequently evolved separate realizations within two general purpose primate motor control systems: (1) a motivation-related medial system, including anterior cingulate cortex and the supplementary motor area, for self-generated behavior, formerly responsible for ancestral vocalization control and now also responsible for frames, and (2) a lateral system, including Broca's area and surround, and Wernicke's area, specialized for response to external input (and therefore the emergent vocal learning capacity) and more responsible for content. (shrink)
Cet article apporte des arguments supplémentaires en faveur de l’hypothèse tête-complément dans les racines verbales en tachelhit. Initialement proposée pour rendre compte de la distribution des consonnes dans les racines trilitères ainsi que de la gémination au thème de l’inaccompli, cette hypothèse stipule que les racines contenant une suite obstruante-sonante possèdent une structure hiérarchique binaire où l’obstruante est la tête de la racine et la sonante son complément. Pour justifier le rôle de tête des consonnes obstruantes, cet article évoque le (...) principe de complexité. Dans le cadre de la théorie des éléments, les consonnes obstruantes sont considérées comme plus complexes que les sonantes ; la complexité étant mesurée en termes du nombre d’éléments qui constituent le segment : plus le segment contient d’éléments, plus il est complexe. Dans les cas où la complexité s’avère insuffisante, il est proposé que les consonnes dont la tête est occupée par l’élément |ʔ| ou |h| sont plus fortes que les autres. (shrink)
In two experiments, participants solved anagram problems while their eye movements were monitored. Each problem consisted of a circular array of five letters: a scrambled four-letter solution word containing three consonants and one vowel, and an additional randomly-placed distractor consonant. Viewing times on the distractor consonant compared to the solution consonants provided an online measure of knowledge of the solution. Viewing times on the distractor consonant and the solution consonants were indistinguishable early in the trial. In contrast, (...) several seconds prior to the response, viewing times on the distractor consonant decreased in a gradual manner compared to viewing times on the solution consonants. Importantly, this pattern was obtained across both trials in which participants reported the subjective experience of insight and trials in which they did not. These findings are consistent with the availability of partial knowledge of the solution prior to such information being accessible to subjective phenomenal awareness. (shrink)
It is being increasingly recognized that the Saussurean dictum of “the arbitrariness of the linguistic sign” is in conflict with the pervasiveness of the phenomenon commonly known as “sound symbolism”. After first presenting a historical overview of the debate, however, we conclude that both positions have been exaggerated, and that an adequate explanation of sound symbolism is still lacking. How can there, for example, be similarity between expressionsand contents across different sensory modalities? We offer an answer, based on the Peircian (...) notion of iconic ground, and G. Sonesson’s distinction betweenprimary and secondary iconicity. Furthermore, we describe an experimental study, in a paradigm first pioneered by W. Kohler, and recently popularized by V.Ramachandran, in which we varied vowels and consonants in fictive word-forms, and conclude that both types of sounds play a role in perceiving an iconic ground between the word-forms and visual figures. The combination of historical conceptual analysis, semiotic explication and psychological experimentationpresented in this article is characteristic of the emerging paradigm of cognitive semiotics. (shrink)
In 2011, van Dijck and Fias described a positional SNARC effect: the SPoARC. To-be-remembered items presented centrally on a screen seemed to acquire a left-to-right spatial dimension. If confirmed, this spatialization could be crucial for immediate memory theories. However, given the intricate links between visual and spatial dimensions, this effect could be due to the visual presentation, which could have probed the left-to-right direction of reading/writing. To allow a generalization of this effect, we adapted van Dijck and Fias's task using (...) an auditory version of Sternberg's paradigm. Lists of five consonants were auditorily presented at a rate of 3 s/item. A SPoARC effect was observed. The consequences are discussed first from an immediate memory perspective, putting forward the view that order could be coded through spatialization, and then in terms of similarities between SPoARC and SNARC. (shrink)
The early Pleistocene hunt scene was instant: when an antelope jerked in the water edge, the first “drivers” of the hunt were already in motion; the moment of outburst after a long ambush lasted less than second. The sudden hunt movements were typical of every prey-abundant landscape since even earlier geological periods. The analysis of Laetoli footprints made by our evolutionary ancestors more than three millions years ago indicates that in a randomly chosen moment, the landscape was full of animals (...) of different species. The language used in the attack moment has to be agitative, only vowels in clausure between two consonants. During the process of further development, those consonants became more and more similar to delimitators, the borders where intrasemiotic realities translate extrasemiotic environment. Speech is an old Paleolithic tool for directing hunters to the useful positions. It was rather an instrument of a leader than grooming “clicks” of kin’s females. (shrink)
In previous research, acoustic characteristics of the male voice have been shown to signal various aspects of mate quality and threat potential. But the human voice is also a medium of linguistic communication. The present study explores whether physical and vocal indicators of male mate quality and threat potential are linked to effective communicative behaviors such as vowel differentiation and use of more salient phonetic variants of consonants. We show that physical and vocal indicators of male threat potential, height (...) and formant position, are negatively linked to vowel space size, and that height and levels of circulating testosterone are negatively linked to the use of the aspirated variant of the alveolar stop consonant /t/. Thus, taller, more masculine men display less clarity in their speech and prefer phonetic variants that may be associated with masculine attributes such as toughness. These findings suggest that vocal signals of men’s mate quality and/or dominance are not confined to the realm of voice acoustics but extend to other aspects of communicative behavior, even if this means a trade-off with speech patterns that are considered communicatively advantageous, such as clarity and indexical cues to higher social class. (shrink)
We report two studies on the effect of implicitly versus explicitly conveying affirmation and denial problems about conditionals. Recently Evans and Handley (1999) and Schroyens et al. (1999b, 2000b) showed that implicit referencing elicits matching bias: Fewer determinate inferences are made, when the categorical premise (e.g., B) mismatches the conditional's referred clause (e.g., A). Also, the effect of implicit affirmation (B affirms not-A) is larger than the effect of implicit denial (B denies A). Schroyens et al. hypothesised that this interaction (...) is due to uncertainty in the case-wise affirmation of the contrast class of negated elements involved in implicit affirmations. In Experiment 1 we tested this hypothesis by manipulating the set size of the conditional clauses. The results confirm that binary sets, where the contrast class is a singleton, eliminate the differential effect of implicit affirmation and denial. With non-binary sets the interaction is not modulated by the scope of the contrast class (3, 5, 9 elements). Experiment 2 further investigated the role of contrast classes by using class inclusion to construct implicit affirmations (Mammal vs Mammal or Monkey) and implicit denial (No-Mammal vs Mammal or Monkey), in addition to the standard implicit problems mediated by contrast-class inclusion [(No-)Mammal/No-Mammal; Reptile; Snake). Findings indicate that class inclusion (Mammal/Monkey; Reptile/ Snake) only marginally affects performance, and is independent of the type of problem. This would suggest that the implicitness problem-type interaction is dependent on constructing contrast classes. However, the experiment failed to replicate the interaction, even on the subset of problems repeating the abstract letter/number format of Experiment 1. Moreover, with the natural binary set-sizes (vowels/consonants) the implicitness effect was eliminated entirely. (shrink)
Debates concerning the types of representations that aid reading acquisition have often been influenced by the relationship between measures of early phonological awareness (the ability to process speech sounds) and later reading ability. Here, a complementary approach is explored, analyzing how the functional utility of different representational units, such as whole words, bodies (letters representing the vowel and final consonants of a syllable), and graphemes (letters representing a phoneme) may change as the number of words that can be read (...) gradually increases. Utility is measured by applying a Simplicity Principle to the problem of mapping from print to sound; that is, assuming that the “best” representational units for reading are those which allow the mapping from print to sounds to be encoded as efficiently as possible. Results indicate that when only a small number of words are read whole-word representations are most useful, whereas when many words can be read graphemic representations have the highest utility. (shrink)
Resumen Este artículo se ocupa del estatus fonético-fonológico de las consonantes interdentales, en el Mapudungun hablado en el sector costa de isla Huapi, IX Región de La Araucanía. Después del análisis de pares mínimos, cuantificación de los segmentos interdentales versus alveolares, y la consciencia fonológica de los hablantes encuestados, se pudo concluir la vigencia de estos segmentos en tanto fonos y en tanto fonemas. Es decir, en esta zona son fonemas.This article deals with the phonetic-phonological status of the interdental (...) class='Hi'>consonants ],, in the Mapudungun spoken in the Coastal area of the Huapi Island, IX Region of Araucania. After analyzing minimal pairs, quantification of interdental segments versus alveolar, and the phonological awareness of the assessed speakers, the validity of these segments could be concluded both as phones and as phonemes. That is to say,, are phonemes in this area. (shrink)
Words denoting “mother” in baby talk and in languages usually include nasal sounds, supporting Falk's suggestion that infant nasalized demand vocalizations might have motivated a first word. The linguistic contrast between maternal terms and paternal terms, which favor oral consonants, and the simple phonetic patterns of parental terms in both baby talk and languages also suggest parental terms could have been first words.
Although the relations between second formant (F2) onset and F2 vowel are extremely regular and contain important information about place of articulation of the voiced stops, they are not sufficient for its identification. Using quadratic discriminant analysis of a new data set, it is shown that F3 onset and F3 vowel can also contribute substantial additional information to help identify the consonants.
As development of the speech recognition system entirely depends upon the spoken language used for its development, and the very fact that speech technology is highly language dependent and reverse engineering is not possible, there is an utmost need to develop such systems for Indian languages. In this paper we present the implementation of a time delay neural network system (TDNN) in a modular fashion by exploiting the hidden structure of previously phonetic subcategory network for recognition of Hindi consonants. (...) For the present study we have selected all the Hindi phonemes for srecognition. A vocabulary of 207 Hindi words was designed for the task-specific environment and used as a database. For the recognition of phoneme, a three-layered network was constructed and the network was trained using the back propagation learning algorithm. Experiments were conducted to categorize the Hindi voiced, unvoiced stops, semi vowels, vowels, nasals and fricatives. A close observation of confusion matrix of Hindi stops revealed maximum confusion of retroflex stops with their non-retroflex counterparts. (shrink)
This study analyzes the morphophonemic variations among Kinamayo dialects. Purposeful sampling, in-depth interviews, sorting and classifying of words according to phonological and morphological structures in data analysis were used. Results revealed that the phonemic inventory of the Kinamayo dialects consisted of twenty segmental phonemes, fifteen consonants: /n/, /g/, /d/, /s/, /l/, /w/, /r/, /p/, /m/, /k/, /t/, /y/, /h/, /b/, /ŋ/; five basic vowels: /a/,/,/i/, /ɪ/, /u, /ʊ/; vowel lengthening: /a:/, /u:/ and three diphthongs: /aʊ/, /aɪ/, /ᴐɪ/. Consonant clusters (...) are mostly borrowed words and occur in the onset of the syllables. The analysis of Kinamayo phonology and morphology will serve as the basis for designing a functional orthography and lexicon of the language. Classification based on morphological structure revealed that the morphological processes common to Kinamayo are affixation, reduplication, deletion and derivation of one-word class from another. Affixation is the most productive morphological process in Kinamayo. Variation among the dialects was observed to involve phonological and morphological processes, voicing or phonation, and in terms of prefix for the markers in the past tense. Peculiarities in the phonological and morphological processes of dialects, as well as their areas of differences were observed to be associated primarily on geographical distribution. Keywords - Linguistics, morphophonemic variation among Kinamayo dialects, case study, Surigao del Sur, Philippines. (shrink)
This commentary questions the proposed resemblance between the auditory mechanisms of localization and those of the sensory registration of speech sounds. Comparative evidence, which would show that the neurophysiology of localization is adequate to the task of categorizing consonants, does not exist. In addition, Sussman et al. do not offer sensory or perceptual evidence to confirm the presence in humans of processes promoting phoneme categorization that are analogous to the neurophysiology of localization. Furthermore, the computational simulation of the linear (...) model of second formant variation is not a plausible sensory mechanism for perceiving speech sounds. (shrink)
This commentary focuses on the claim that perceptual demands have caused the linearity exhibited by locus equations. I discuss results of an experiment demonstrating that, contrary to Sussman et al.'s claims, locus equations do not have relevance for the perception of stop consonants. I therefore argue against the plausibility of the orderly output constraint.
Locus equations are supposed to capture a perceptual invariant of place of articulation in consonants. Synthetic speech data show that human classification deviates systematically from the predictions of locus equations. The few studies that have contrasted predictions from competing theories yield mixed results, indicating that no current theory adequately characterizes the perceptual mapping from sound to phonetic symbol.