Insights From Perception and Comprehension

Lori L. Holt and Noël Nguyen

in The Oxford Handbook of Laboratory Phonology

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199575039
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Insights From Perception and Comprehension

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  • Linguistics
  • Phonetics and Phonology
  • Cognitive Linguistics


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This article provides detailed information on category learning and the role of speech perception in the formation of phonological representations. The experience-dependent change in speech perception reflects the influence of native-language speech category learning and has been described as a ‘warping’ of perceptual space. The mapping from acoustics to perceptual space is closely related to the raw acoustic differences among speech sounds, and infants' speech discrimination is mostly independent of the native language environment. Artificial languages comprised of speech tokens manipulated to have special characteristics have been used widely as a tool in understanding infant language acquisition. Discrimination training and categorization training warp listeners' perception of non-speech stimuli in different ways. Discrimination training increases listeners' sensitivity to small distinctions among stimuli thereby working against categorization. One of the characteristics of speech categories is their multidimensionality. Relative perceptual cue weight develops across childhood and is native-language specific. Words can show substantial variations in their surface form under the influence of a variety of phonological phenomena such as assimilation or deletion. Featurally underspecified lexicon (FUL) model of word recognition reports that each word is associated in the mental lexicon with a highly abstract phonological representation, which is underspecified for certain features such as coronal.

Keywords: category learning; featurally underspecified lexicon; word recognition; artificial languages; speech sound; speech perception models

Article.  8967 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Phonetics and Phonology ; Cognitive Linguistics

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