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Introductory Comments

I have written below in a casual and, perhaps, bloggish style.  I thought some spontaneous commentary was better than no commentary at all about how these papers relate to each other.

    There are 8 sections below -- each with 2 or more readings.    First in Section (1), I review the assumptions of segmental transcription and formal linguistics. Section (2) addresses the empirical clash between the segmental letter-based model of speech, and the actual acoustic patterns for speech. They cannot be made to fit very well most of the time.  Segments do not begin to explain how the information is distributed in the acoustic record of the utterance.  (Linguists have been making excuses for this for most of the  last century.)  Then
in (3) some info suggesting that there is no limit to the variation to be observed in speech.  So there is no possibility of a single `Grammar' describing some whole dialect.  Next, in (4) some powerful data on recognition memory for speech is presented.   These experiments suggest that people automatically remember the voices that spoke specific words.  So our memory cannot be abstract and linguistic only.  It is concrete and rich in all the kinds of detail we used to think was somehow stripped away!   Speech variation has no limit whatever.  It is for all practical purposes infinite.  Next (5) addresses what kind of medium provides the code for words either for perception or for speech production.  Then (6) looks at the representation in short-term memory for linguistic material.  (Seems to be mostly articulatory.)  Then, in (7) we turn to the question of
why we have our strong intuitions about the segmental structure of speech.  The answer should be obvious: it is a result of our education beginning in infancy to become skilled at reading and writing language with an alphabet.  If this is really the source of out segmental intuitions, then, of course, illiterates should not share our intuitions about the segmental structure of speech. In (8) it is shown that this prediction is strongly supported by the data.

        This result is that we have all been misled by the consequences of our lifelong training.  Well, ... it was surprising to me.  Now that I have worked through my story in various ways, I encourage readers to browse their way through these materials and read the papers here in whatever order you like. 
        Good luck,
    Bob Port

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