An Information Theoretic Theory On Phonological Status And Its Perceptual Effect

1274 Words6 Pages
The finding that the learning of phonological status is constrained by the phonetic naturalness has a strong implication to theories on phonological status and its perceptual effect. Traditional theories have argued that the conditioned distribution plays a central role in determining the phonological status of sounds citep[e.g.][]{chomsky1968sound, kenstowicz1979generative}. When two sounds occur in the same contexts, they are phonemes. When two sounds occur in mutually exclusive contexts, they are allophones. Recent theories have argued against the dichotomy between phonemes and allophones. In these theories, phonological status is viewed as a probabilistic phenomenon and the relative predictabilities of sounds in contexts determines the…show more content…
Messages with more information content require more processing energy in the brain citep[e.g.][]{harrison2006encoding, sinkkonen1999information}. Therefore, the perceptual system strategically allocates processing energy depending on the informativeness of messages. It uses more energy to process less predictable or more informative messages and less energy to process more predictable or less informative messages citep[e.g.][]{treisman1965effects}. Based on the information theoretic view on human cognition, citeauthor{hall2009probabilistic} argued that listeners are less sensitive to the acoustic difference between native allophones because their perceptual system selectively allocates less energy to process the allophones. In other words, listeners become less attentive to the phonetic properties of the allophones because they are predictable and not informative. citeauthor{hall2009probabilistic} states " extit{for pairs of sounds (X and Y) for which there is a low degree of uncertainty (in context C), it is less crucial for mature language users to pay particular attention to acoustic and articulatory cues used to differentiate X and Y in C because these cues are redundant with the information provided by C}" citep[pg.117]{hall2009probabilistic}. As it is clearly stated in the quote above, citeauthor{hall2009probabilistic} 's main focus is the question of how mature language user
    Get Access