ASA 129th Meeting - Washington, DC - 1995 May 30 .. Jun 06

3aSC1. Access to phonological structure in listening to speech.

Carol A. Fowler

Haskins Labs., 270 Crown St., New Haven, CT 06511

In a direct-realist theory of speech perception, listeners are in immediate (in the sense of unmediated) contact with the phonological units of their language when they use structure in acoustic speech signals as information for its causal source---phonological gestures of the vocal tract. In the theory, phonological categories include, minimally, the sets of motor-equivalent articulatory movements producible by a synergy of the vocal-tract, each set, thereby, counting as a token of the same phonological gesture for producer/perceivers of speech. Maximally, categories include a set of similar gestures that members of a language community do not distinguish. Categories, thus, are defined gesturally, not acoustically, as for example, research on prototypes in speech have been interpreted as suggesting. Striking behaviors of listeners that index their extraction of information about phonetic gestures from the acoustic speech signal is their parsing of acoustic signals. A literature review suggests that listeners do not hear such unitary acoustic dimensions as fundamental frequency or duration as unitary. Rather, they parse each dimension into its distinct, converging gestural cause. Complementarily, listeners use as information for a phonological unit the constellation of diverse acoustic consequences of the units gestural realization. [Work supported by NICHD.]