An embodiment perspective on the acquisition of speech perception

  • Davis B
  • MacNeilage P
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Understanding the potential relationships between perception and production is crucial to explanation of the nature of early speech acquisition. The ‘embodiment’ perspective suggests that mental activity in general cannot be understood outside of the context of body activities. Indeed, universal motor factors seem to be more responsible for the distribution of early production preferences regarding consonant place and manner, and use of the vowel space than the often considerable cross-language differences in input available to the perceptual system. However, there is evidence for a perceptual basis to the establishment of a language-appropriate balance of oral-to-nasal output by the beginning of babbling, illustrating the necessary contribution of ‘extrinsic’ perceptual information to acquisition. In terms of representations, at least one assumption that segmental units underlying either perception or production in early phases of acquisition may be inappropriate. Our work on production has shown that the dominant early organizational structure is a relatively unitary open-close ‘frame’ produced by mandibular oscillation. Consideration of the role of ‘intrinsic’ (self-produced) perceptual information suggests that this frame may be an important basis for perceptual as well as production organization.

Copyright © 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel

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  • Barbara L. Davis

  • Peter F. MacNeilage

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