13th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Portland, OR, USA
September 9-13, 2012

Aligning Manifolds to Model the Earliest Phonological Abstraction in Infant-Caretaker Vocal Imitation

Andrew R. Plummer

Department of Linguistics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

We argue that infants perform an abstraction over their auditory representations of the vowels of individual speakers, by mapping them to a mediating space of speaker-independent representations, guided by vocal imitative interaction with their caretakers, as a first step in the phonological acquisition process. Furthermore, we proffer a methodology for modeling this abstraction which involves the alignment of the cognitive structures, or manifolds, that the infant builds from the auditory representations of the vowels of individual speakers. As a demonstration of the methodology, we show that higher-dimensional "excitation pattern" representations facilitate modeling of the influence of the imitative process on perception and abstraction more so than lower-dimensional formant representations.

Index Terms: vowel normalization, manifold alignment, vocal imitation, phonological abstraction

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Plummer, Andrew R. (2012): "Aligning manifolds to model the earliest phonological abstraction in infant-caretaker vocal imitation", In INTERSPEECH-2012, 2482-2485.