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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

Receiver operating characteristics for natural vs. random inventories, using each of the three geometric properties as decision criteria, within each of the four kinds of inventory subsets.
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Figure 5: Receiver operating characteristics for natural vs. random inventories, using each of the three geometric properties as decision criteria, within each of the four kinds of inventory subsets.

Mentions: Due to the highly non-normal character of these distributions, we use receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves to quantify the degree of separation of the natural vs. random histograms. One can consider the histogram comparison problem as a task of deciding whether an inventory is natural or not, solely on the basis of one of the geometric properties (for example, Econ). If the histogram for natural inventories systematically has more area at higher levels of Econ, this will be possible, at least to some degree. The receiver operating characteristic (correct guesses as a function of false positives) will, on average, be a curve falling above the line y = x. Figure 5 shows ROC curves for the four subsystem types, for all three statistics.


Geometric Constraints on Human Speech Sound Inventories.

Dunbar E, Dupoux E - Front Psychol (2016)

Receiver operating characteristics for natural vs. random inventories, using each of the three geometric properties as decision criteria, within each of the four kinds of inventory subsets.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Figure 5: Receiver operating characteristics for natural vs. random inventories, using each of the three geometric properties as decision criteria, within each of the four kinds of inventory subsets.
Mentions: Due to the highly non-normal character of these distributions, we use receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves to quantify the degree of separation of the natural vs. random histograms. One can consider the histogram comparison problem as a task of deciding whether an inventory is natural or not, solely on the basis of one of the geometric properties (for example, Econ). If the histogram for natural inventories systematically has more area at higher levels of Econ, this will be possible, at least to some degree. The receiver operating characteristic (correct guesses as a function of false positives) will, on average, be a curve falling above the line y = x. Figure 5 shows ROC curves for the four subsystem types, for all three statistics.

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