Speech Perception Essay

2005 Words 9 Pages
Speech Perception

Speech perception is the ability to comprehend speech through listening. Mankind is constantly being bombarded by acoustical energy. The challenge to humanity is to translate this energy into meaningful data. Speech perception is not dependent on the extraction of simple invariant acoustic patterns in the speech waveform. The sound's acoustic pattern is complex and greatly varies. It is dependent upon the preceding and following sounds (Moore, 1997). According to Fant (1973), speech perception is a process consisting of both successive and concurrent identification on a series of progressively more abstract levels of linguistic structure.
Nature of Speech Sounds Phonemes are the smallest unit of sound. In
…show more content…
People do not hear changes within one phoneme category. Only changes from one phoneme to another phoneme are detected (Lobacz, 1984). Although categorical perception generally is considered to reflect the operation of a special speech decoder, there is a strong indication that categorical perception can also occur in non-speech signals. Musicians are a good example of this. The discrimination performance of musicians was better for frequency changes that revised the identity of the chord than for changes that did not alter the identity (Moore, 1997). Categorical perception is not unique to speech, however it appears more frequently with speech than with non-speech signals.
There are three possible explanations for categorical perception. The first explanation suggests that consonants and vowels may be explained in terms of differences in the extent to which the acoustic patterns can be retained in auditory memory. Consonant sounds have a lower intensity than vowels, fluctuate more rapidly, and last for a shorter time than vowels. Therefore, the acoustic patterns of consonants frequently decay rapidly. Another explanation is that boundaries, which separate one speech sound from another, tend to lie at a point where discrimination is optimal. The last explanation is that it comes from experience with a person's own language. In
Open Document