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Geometric Constraints on Human Speech Sound Inventories.

Dunbar E, Dupoux E - Front Psychol (2016)

Bottom Line: We investigate the idea that the languages of the world have developed coherent sound systems in which having one sound increases or decreases the chances of having certain other sounds, depending on shared properties of those sounds.We document three typological tendencies in sound system geometries: economy, a tendency for the differences between sounds in a system to be definable on a relatively small number of independent dimensions; local symmetry, a tendency for sound systems to have relatively large numbers of pairs of sounds that differ only on one dimension; and global symmetry, a tendency for sound systems to be relatively balanced.We also investigate the relation between the typology of inventory geometries and the typology of individual sounds, showing that the frequency distribution with which individual sounds occur across languages works in favor of both local and global symmetry.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique (ENS-EHESS-Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), Département des Études Cognitives, École Normale Supérieure-PSL Research University Paris, France.

ABSTRACT
We investigate the idea that the languages of the world have developed coherent sound systems in which having one sound increases or decreases the chances of having certain other sounds, depending on shared properties of those sounds. We investigate the geometries of sound systems that are defined by the inherent properties of sounds. We document three typological tendencies in sound system geometries: economy, a tendency for the differences between sounds in a system to be definable on a relatively small number of independent dimensions; local symmetry, a tendency for sound systems to have relatively large numbers of pairs of sounds that differ only on one dimension; and global symmetry, a tendency for sound systems to be relatively balanced. The finding of economy corroborates previous results; the two symmetry properties have not been previously documented. We also investigate the relation between the typology of inventory geometries and the typology of individual sounds, showing that the frequency distribution with which individual sounds occur across languages works in favor of both local and global symmetry.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Three geometric properties in natural vs. random inventories, taken from four defined subsets of the set of sounds in each inventory. Blue (darker) areas are natural inventories, orange (lighter) areas are random control inventories. Both histograms are highlighted with lines of the appropriate color. Means are shown as colored vertical lines on top of the histograms. Note that, while the scales for each graph are different for readability, the theoretical minimum is always zero and the theoretical maximum is always one.
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Figure 4: Three geometric properties in natural vs. random inventories, taken from four defined subsets of the set of sounds in each inventory. Blue (darker) areas are natural inventories, orange (lighter) areas are random control inventories. Both histograms are highlighted with lines of the appropriate color. Means are shown as colored vertical lines on top of the histograms. Note that, while the scales for each graph are different for readability, the theoretical minimum is always zero and the theoretical maximum is always one.

Mentions: Figure 4 shows histograms and means for all three statistics, for whole inventories and for three kinds of subsystems (consonants, stops/affricates, and vowels), along with the corresponding random controls. Econ tends to be larger for natural inventories than would be expected if combinations of segments were independent of each other, as shown previously by Mackie and Mielke (2011). Both Loc and Glob also show higher levels in natural inventories than would be expected by chance. The size and composition of systems affects the distribution of all three statistics. Because the control inventories are frequency-matched random inventories, and are also matched for size, this is reflected in the shape of the histograms for the random control inventories as well. The set of possible values for each statistic is restricted by the fact that all three measures are discrete functions of the set of possible distinct geometries. Since the set of possible geometries grows as a function of inventory size, the smaller inventories (stop/affricate and vowel inventories) give histograms that are less smooth for all three measures.


Geometric Constraints on Human Speech Sound Inventories.

Dunbar E, Dupoux E - Front Psychol (2016)

Three geometric properties in natural vs. random inventories, taken from four defined subsets of the set of sounds in each inventory. Blue (darker) areas are natural inventories, orange (lighter) areas are random control inventories. Both histograms are highlighted with lines of the appropriate color. Means are shown as colored vertical lines on top of the histograms. Note that, while the scales for each graph are different for readability, the theoretical minimum is always zero and the theoretical maximum is always one.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4940385&req=5

Figure 4: Three geometric properties in natural vs. random inventories, taken from four defined subsets of the set of sounds in each inventory. Blue (darker) areas are natural inventories, orange (lighter) areas are random control inventories. Both histograms are highlighted with lines of the appropriate color. Means are shown as colored vertical lines on top of the histograms. Note that, while the scales for each graph are different for readability, the theoretical minimum is always zero and the theoretical maximum is always one.
Mentions: Figure 4 shows histograms and means for all three statistics, for whole inventories and for three kinds of subsystems (consonants, stops/affricates, and vowels), along with the corresponding random controls. Econ tends to be larger for natural inventories than would be expected if combinations of segments were independent of each other, as shown previously by Mackie and Mielke (2011). Both Loc and Glob also show higher levels in natural inventories than would be expected by chance. The size and composition of systems affects the distribution of all three statistics. Because the control inventories are frequency-matched random inventories, and are also matched for size, this is reflected in the shape of the histograms for the random control inventories as well. The set of possible values for each statistic is restricted by the fact that all three measures are discrete functions of the set of possible distinct geometries. Since the set of possible geometries grows as a function of inventory size, the smaller inventories (stop/affricate and vowel inventories) give histograms that are less smooth for all three measures.

Bottom Line: We investigate the idea that the languages of the world have developed coherent sound systems in which having one sound increases or decreases the chances of having certain other sounds, depending on shared properties of those sounds.We document three typological tendencies in sound system geometries: economy, a tendency for the differences between sounds in a system to be definable on a relatively small number of independent dimensions; local symmetry, a tendency for sound systems to have relatively large numbers of pairs of sounds that differ only on one dimension; and global symmetry, a tendency for sound systems to be relatively balanced.We also investigate the relation between the typology of inventory geometries and the typology of individual sounds, showing that the frequency distribution with which individual sounds occur across languages works in favor of both local and global symmetry.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique (ENS-EHESS-Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), Département des Études Cognitives, École Normale Supérieure-PSL Research University Paris, France.

ABSTRACT
We investigate the idea that the languages of the world have developed coherent sound systems in which having one sound increases or decreases the chances of having certain other sounds, depending on shared properties of those sounds. We investigate the geometries of sound systems that are defined by the inherent properties of sounds. We document three typological tendencies in sound system geometries: economy, a tendency for the differences between sounds in a system to be definable on a relatively small number of independent dimensions; local symmetry, a tendency for sound systems to have relatively large numbers of pairs of sounds that differ only on one dimension; and global symmetry, a tendency for sound systems to be relatively balanced. The finding of economy corroborates previous results; the two symmetry properties have not been previously documented. We also investigate the relation between the typology of inventory geometries and the typology of individual sounds, showing that the frequency distribution with which individual sounds occur across languages works in favor of both local and global symmetry.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus