Re: Motor Theory of Speech Perception

From: Harnad, Stevan (
Date: Wed Apr 30 1997 - 20:22:49 BST

> From: Dye, Matt <>
> > > (27) The findings about perception by chinchillas:
> > > C. *contradict the motor theory of speech perception
> >
> > But how does this contradict the Motor Theory?
> > Speech perception is still based on speeh production.
> The issue here has nothing (directly) to do with categorical
> perception. The Motor Theory of speech perception states that we
> understand what someone is saying, because we know what movements the
> speaker has to make in order to produce what they are saying. Our
> perception of speech is grounded in our ability to produce it.

Not quite. Being able to produce the movements doesn't make you
UNDERSTAND what someone's saying (otherwise Polly the Parrot would
understand speech too!).

First and foremost, the Motor theory was a theory of speech PERCEPTION.
And its main tenet was that we perceive speech using a production
template. The term "categorical perception" was coined by motor
theorists (Al Liberman, for the most part). The motor theory eventually
turned into the "speech is special" theory, which continues to have a
motor component (e.g., in the coarticulation effects discussed in
the Chapter 5.

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