ITRW on Experimental Linguistics

Athens, Greece
August 28-30, 2006

Toward a Rich Phonology

Robert Port

Departments of Linguistics and Cognitive Science, Indiana University, USA

A radically new conception of linguistic representations is proposed. The claim is that language is stored in memory in the form of large distributions of specific utterances in a rich high-dimensional space, sometimes called exemplar memory. This is the form the brain uses for understanding and creating utterances in real time. In contrast, the abstract, speaker-independent description of language (as modelled by alphabetical orthographies and by linguistic descriptions using phonemes, etc.) exhibits many structures and patterns that comprise a social institution, maintained by speakers over time, and approximating a discrete system made from components. However, these phenomena, shaped by social as well as articulatory and auditory factors, play no clear role in real-time language processing.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Port, Robert (2006): "Toward a rich phonology", In ExLing-2006, 261-264.