D. B. FRY
Reader in Experimental Phonetics in the University of London, at University College
During the last twenty-five years, the study of speech has become so popular that we are apt to forget its long history -- a history which includes the Indian grammarians, John Wallis and Henry Sweet as well as the Vocoder and Visible Speech. Many of the more striking advances of recent years have resulted from the use of experimental methods but in general what we know about speech is a synthesis of knowledge gained through observation and experiment, and knowledge gained through introspection. The grammarian and the linguist depend not only on observation and classification of other people's behaviour but also on mental questions about their own, particularly when dealing with their native language. The phonetician making an analysis of the sounds of a language proceeds by asking himself 'What exactly am I doing when I make noises similar to those of my informant?' It is perhaps well to underline the fact that experimental methods can neither confirm nor contradict the knowledge obtained by introspection since an experimental method and an introspective method collect information about different sets of events. What we can do is to see how knowledge obtained in these two ways is related.
In the first chapter of this series, Professor Ayer refers to a behavioural point of view as one possible starting point for the study of communication. It will be clear that an experimental study of speech presupposes a behavioural view of the subject and this chapter will be concerned, therefore, only with the methods which are available for gathering 'public' information about speech. We have first of all to consider what kind of events