Full Text

1. Introduction


Subject Speech Science » Production
Theoretical Linguistics » Phonetics

Key-Topics acoustic, grammar, language

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780470659939.2015.00002.x


Speech is the principal mode used to convey human language – a complex communication system that creates cohesion (and division) among us; a system that allows us to structure and build knowledge and social-cultural practices through time. Speech is an activity, defined at its core by an acoustic signal that is generated by the speaker and transduced by the listener. Activities unfold through time, and so does speech. When speech is defined in terms of the signal, it is as a time-varying acoustic waveform, amplitude and frequency modulated. The modulations are due to movements of the speech organs (articulators) in service of the message to be conveyed. Since there is no way to move except through time, the generation of speech constrains how the message is structured: the output must be roughly linear, even though the complex thoughts and feelings we want to communicate are not. The relationship between complexity and the quasi-linearity of action was famously explored by Karl Lashley (1951) . Lashley's concern was to explain “the existence of generalized schemata of action which determine the sequence of specific acts, acts which in themselves or in their associations seem to have no temporal valence (122).” To do so, Lashley devoted over half of his presentation, intended for an audience of neuroscientists, to language. He argued, based on the evidence from language, that the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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