The Speech Signal
This chapter provides a non-mathematical introduction to the speech signal. The production of speech is first described, including a survey of the categories into which speech sounds are grouped. This is followed by an account of some properties of human perception of sounds in general and of speech in particular. Speech is then compared with other signals. It is argued that it is more complex than artificial message bearing signals, and that unlike such signals speech contains no easily identified context-independent units that can be used in bottom-up decoding. Words and phonemes are examined, and phonemes are shown to have no simple manifestation in the acoustic signal. Speech communication is presented as an interactive process, in which the listener actively reconstructs the message from a combination of acoustic cues and prior knowledge, and the speaker takes the listener’s capacities into account in deciding how much acoustic information to provide. The final section compares speech and text, arguing that our cultural emphasis on written communication causes us to project properties of text onto speech and that there are large differences between the styles of language appropriate for the two modes of communication. These differences are often ignored, with unfortunate results.
KeywordsVocal Cord Speech Signal Speech Perception Vocal Tract Speech Sound
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