Toward Rich Phonology. Robert Port Linguistics, Cognitive Science Indiana University August, 2006 ESCA Experimental Linguistics, Athens. The standard view of language. 1.`Language is a cognitive symbol system …’ Symbols : discrete tokens static serially ordered
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Linguistics, Cognitive Science
ESCA Experimental Linguistics, Athens
1.`Language is a cognitive symbol system …’
perfectly recognized and produced
with associated meanings
The basic units are the phonological segment and the word.
2. `… used for real-time processing of language.’
Speech production = `encoding’
Speech perception = `decoding’
Memory = keeping symbols `active’
Linguistic processing = `reading’ and `writing’ symbols
But human memory for words is far richer than this suggests.
Look first at Vision: Visual memory is detailed and depends on massive memory for details.
Posner-Keele (1968) random dot patterns for categorization
Prototype A Prototype B
Experiment: A random dot pattern serves as a prototype. It is not shown to subjects. Only noisy variants are shown.
Modelers of categorization, recall and recognition (eg, Hintzman, Nosofsky, Shiffrin) get best results by:
In vision we remember detail well on a single exposure!
Humans can do ``one-trial learning’’ of many coincidental events.
This skill is found in all mammals
but is best in primates.
(See review by Mark Gluck, Trends Cog Sci)
The hippocampus (and neighboring regions) are essential for:
Linguistic events could be first stored as episodes and gradually be incorporated into long-term memory.
Words were assumed to be perceptually identified and stored using a code that is abstract. A representation like
Chomsky-Halle: ~40 bits/segment.
At 15-20 segments/sec, this implies < 1000 bits/sec.
Presumably this code of symbols is used in long-term and short-term memory.
Sound Pattern of English, p 5.
Nearly all linguists would agree with Morris Halle: a rich episodic memory
``It is unlikely that the information about the phonic shape of words is stored in the memory of speakers in acoustic form resembling a spectrogram’’
1985, in Fromkin, ed.
If true, then speech could not have `auditory episodic memory’.
Palmeri, Goldinger, Pisoni (1993)
Of course, performance declined with greater lag
But no effect of number of talkers on recognition!
It doesn’t matter how many voices because the information is always stored – automatically!
Words are stored episodically, just like visual images and everyday events.
We apparently store:
We store as much detail as possible – at least for awhile.
Formant tracks of short Australian vowels in CVCs, multiple tokens, male speaker: dead, Dad, Dodd, dud
Of course, an abstractlinguistic description (using features, segments, orthographic letters, etc) is stored as wellfor educated speakers.For these, symbolic description tends to dominate our conscious experience of language.
2. Dialect details, gradual dialect change and speaker idiosyncracies. (W. Labov, Betty Phillips)
Vowels vary in systematic ways. NJ speaker. Labov 2005
3 a rich episodic memory. Frequent speech patterns are different from infrequent patterns. (eg, Joan Bybee, B. Phillips)
R. Port will not begin a word with a flapped T – normally.
I want atomáto - no flap on initial t
Where is mytobácco?
But its OK with a high-frequency word (and phrase).
I want to gotodáy - t usually flapped!
I’ll see youtomórrow.
Suggests each hearing of a word leaves a long-lasting record. Exemplar memory automatically records frequency.
4. a rich episodic memorySpeech perception uses rich context-sensitive cues, not abstract invariant cues.
Liberman (1968) was troubled that /di/ and /du/ have no acoustic invariant corresponding to /d/ - the ``cooarticulation problem’’
Rich memory sweeps it away. We remember big chunks.
So every di is stored independently of all the du.
(Note that speech recognition systems pay no attention to segments! They always use spectral trajectories.)
Sound spectrogram of male speaker,
3 letters → 3 steady state gestures → 3 acoustic shapes
But this model does not work for:
s I l m a m s i m
5-B. a rich episodic memory Letters don’t fit speech well, if you look close.
The V-to-C continuum has arbitrary cuts
a u a aU a a w a
The VOT continuum – arbitrary cuts
da da da ta tha tha
5-C. a rich episodic memory Letters don’t fit speech well, if you look close.
Overlap of gestures is common but ignored.
cap camp but also camp
Timing patterns are critical to word specification.
fuzzy ≠ fussy budding =? butting
Sounds not different enough to permit reliable ID may still be different. But they are not discrete. (Port & Crawford; Warner et al)
This situation should be impossible if words had letter-like spellings!
6. a rich episodic memory Non-alphabet-literates should find segments very
non-intuitive. Look at ``phonological awareness tasks.’’
6A.Studies of illiterates in Portugal (by Morais et al, Cognition 1979,1986)
segment addition: add /p/ to syllable (urso → purso )
segment deletion: delete /p/ (purso → urso)
Word-word condition and Nonword-nonword condition
30 Illiterate subjects and 30 Reading subjects
15 training trials with feedback
10 W-W test trials and 10 Nw-Nw test trials
Illiterates Readers a rich episodic memory
Number of subjects
Number of correct responses
6B. a rich episodic memoryMatching experiments on Chinese who are literate in Chinese orthography with and without alphabet experience showed the same results (C. Reed et al, 1986).
Ziegler and Goswami (2005, Psych Bull’tn)
``Phoneme awareness only develops once children are taught to read and write, irrespective of age.’’ (p. 14)
Phonological awareness’ is mostly a result of literacy training.
(I say `mostly’ because, eg, obviously the inventors of alphabetic writing must have had awareness of phonetic segments.)
Conclusions so far a rich episodic memory
With such rich memory, why is phonology necessary?
Pete, pate, pet, pat beat, bait, bet, bat
seal, sale, sell, Sal zeal, -- , Szell, --
if language skills do not rely on low-D descriptions,
Phonology is part of our ambient a rich episodic memoryculture – our phonological culture.