Phonetics and Phonology in Language Comprehension and Production: Differences and Similarities

Phonetics and Phonology in Language Comprehension and Production: Differences and Similarities

Phonetics and Phonology in Language Comprehension and Production: Differences and Similarities

Phonetics and Phonology in Language Comprehension and Production: Differences and Similarities

Synopsis

This edited volume investigates the role of phonetics and phonology in psycholinguistics. Speaking and understanding spoken language both engage phonological and phonetic knowledge. There are detailed models of phonological and phonetic encoding in language production and there are equally refined models of phonetic and phonological processing in language comprehension. However, since most psycholinguists work on either language production or comprehension, the relationship between the two has received surprisingly little attention. Prominent researchers in various areas of psycholinguistics were invited to discuss this relationship focusing on the phonological and phonetic components.

Excerpt

The present book explores how phonological and phonetic knowledge is represented and used in speech comprehension and production. These processes are obviously quite different: In one case a person hears and understands an acoustic input, whereas in the other case, the person produces an acoustic signal expressing a message to be conveyed. Therefore it is not surprising that many researchers have studied phonological and phonetic processing in either speech production or comprehension without considering the other process too much. This [divide-and-conquer] strategy has been very successful and has led to a wealth of empirical data and detailed production and comprehension models.

However, in addition to the obvious differences there are equally obvious similarities between speech production and comprehension: They both involve the use of linguistic knowledge; when a person learns a first or second language, productive and receptive skills develop hand-in-hand, and when language is impaired after brain damage, the loss is rarely confined to production or comprehension. When language is used in natural contexts, speaker and listener collaborate, as the speaker is the person creating the input for the listener and each speaker is also a listener of his or her own speech and, a moment earlier or later, the speech of the other person.

Given these obvious similarities and differences between speech production and comprehension, it seems worthwhile to ask how exactly they are related or different from each other. A number of specific research questions suggest themselves. For instance, is there one mental lexicon that holds all information required for production and comprehension and is accessed in both processes, or are there separate dedicated lexica for each function? If there are separate lexica . . .

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