Gunnar Fant's contribution to speech perception: forcing the speech code

Abstract : A recurring theme in Fant's work was about uncovering the link between the speech signal and the phonological system. He was probably the first one to state that the basic problem in the study of speech communication is to explain the transmission of invariant units, the distinctive features, by a contextually variable acoustic signal. His fundamental contribution to the acoustics of speech made it clear that the quest for invariance in the signal was an enormous challenge. In this quest he came to the conclusion that variability should also be part of the solution. In Fant's words: "A main point in my look ahead has been the challenge to force the speech code. [...]The seeming lack of invariance which has discouraged so many investigators ceases to be a problem if we are able to structure the variability as a part of the code" (Fonetik 2000, http://www.speech.kth.se/~gunnar/halfcentury.pdf, p.7). In the present address, I will illustrate the importance of this statement for the study of speech perception with different examples. Supportive arguments will be taken from both empirical findings and key concepts in current theories of speech perception.
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Willy- Serniclaes. Gunnar Fant's contribution to speech perception: forcing the speech code. 10ème Congrès Français d'Acoustique, Apr 2010, Lyon, France. ⟨hal-00554463⟩

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