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Phonemic Coding Might Result From Sensory-Motor Coupling Dynamics

By Pierre-Yves Oudeyer

Abstract

Human sound systems are invariably phonemically coded. Furthermore, phoneme inventories follow very particular tendancies. To explain these phenomena, there existed so far three kinds of approaches : ``Chomskyan''/cognitive innatism, morpho-perceptual innatism and the more recent approach of ``language as a complex cultural system which adapts under the pressure of efficient communication''. The two first approaches are clearly not satisfying, while the third, even if much more convincing, makes a lot of speculative assumptions and did not really bring answers to the question of phonemic coding. We propose here a new hypothesis based on a low-level model of sensory-motor interactions. We show that certain very simple and non language-specific neural devices allow a population of agents to build signalling systems without any functional pressure. Moreover, these systems are phonemically coded. Using a realistic vowel articulatory synthesizer, we show that the inventories of vowels have striking similarities with human vowel systems

Topics: Language, Dynamical Systems, Computational Linguistics, Computational Neuroscience, Psycholinguistics, Neural Nets, Speech, Theoretical Biology, Neurolinguistics, Artificial Intelligence, Phonology
Publisher: MIT Press
Year: 2002
OAI identifier: oai:cogprints.org:2658

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