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Re: Do phonemes = sounds?

On Mon, 6 Jun 2005, Richard H. wrote:

> I keep seeing phonemes being referred to as if they are real sounds.
> However I recollect seeing a discussion in a book which identified phonemes as being
> abstract definitions/notations and NOT representations of actual sounds.

My observation is that speech recognition people do not really care about
the difference between phones and phonemes. But linguists are really
splitting hair. For me this separation always seemed artificial. The
phoneme is an abstract notion cleaned from any acoustical correlate. I
think it was invented in order to detach phonology from phonetics. But
the notion of phoneme is at least well-defined. Phones are also a kind of
abstract classes over the sound items, but I could never find any
definition in any phonetics book...

> So what's "the truth" here? Can computers create and/or recognise phomemes ..

Oh, I also always in trouble with this. Should I say "phone recognition"
or "phoneme recognition"? For example, if I had a software that could tell
the species of animals, is it an animal recognizer or a species
recognizer? The problem is that the word "recognition" inherently
contains a mapping of a data item to an abstract class. So it does not
deal with any of the sets but with the mapping between them.
(sorry if it became too mathematical...)

               Laszlo Toth
        Hungarian Academy of Sciences         *
  Research Group on Artificial Intelligence   *   "Failure only begins
     e-mail: tothl@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx            *    when you stop trying"
     http://www.inf.u-szeged.hu/~tothl        *