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Re: Do phonemes = sounds?

On Tuesday, June 07, Branka ZEI wrote:

"The present discussion shows that the most  remarkable theoretical
breakthroughs in linguistics and phonology ( I am referring to F. de
Saussure's conceptualisation of language as well as the Prague School - and
Trubetzkoy) have unfortunately fallen onto oblivion. They have not been
proven wrong!"
"Operating with phonemes involves abstraction and retension of only those
features that are relevant for distinguishing meanings to the exclusion of
many other that are present but not relevant in a given language.  Like any
cognitive construct it cannot be said to EXIST in measurable terms."

Measuring what triggers a phoneme is called psychophysics.
Measuring the representation of a phoneme is called neuroscience.

There is nothing immaterial with a phoneme. The same can not be said about a
structuralist concept, though ;-)


Martin Braun
Neuroscience of Music
S-671 95 Klässbol
web site: http://w1.570.telia.com/~u57011259/index.htm

Similarly when you operate with a concept of "animal" it is irrelevant
whether it has fur or feathers etc. Obviuously a phone to be recognised as a
phoneme must present certain acoustic features that the listener will choose
and recognise as part of the phonological system he is operating with. This
is why speech synthesis can work.

I agree with Laszlo Toth when he says:

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.

Best to all!

Branka Zei Pollermann
Branka Zei Pollermann PhD
Psychiatrie de Liaison
Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève
51 Bvd. De la Cluse, 1205 Genève
tél. : 0041 22 382 48 81
Portable : 0041 79 203 92 17

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