Language acquisition as complex category formation

Andrew J. Lotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Purported units of speech, e.g. phonemes or features, are essentially categories. The assignment of phonemic (or phonetic) identity is a process of categorization: potentially discriminable speech sounds are treated in an equivalent manner. Unfortunately the extensive literature on human categorization has typically focused on simple visual categories that are defined by the presence or absence of discrete features. Speech categories are much more complex. They are often defined by continuous values across a variety of imperfectly valid features. In this paper, several kinds of categories are distinguished and studies using human subjects, animal subjects and computational models are presented that endeavor to describe the structure and development of the sort of complex categories underlying speech perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-196
Number of pages8
Issue number2-4
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Linguistics and Language


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