Conquer primal fear: Phonological features are innate and substance-free

Charles Reiss, Veno Volenec
2022 Canadian Journal of Linguistics  
We argue that the representational primes of the human phonological faculty, the so-called distinctive features, are innate and substance-free. Our arguments for the innateness of features are built on traditional and novel logical arguments, experimental evidence accumulating over recent decades, and somewhat detailed proposals about their neurobiological reality. As symbols in the brain, features are substance-free, that is, they are devoid of articulatory and acoustic content, or even any
more » ... ect reference to such phenomena. This is consistent with our substance-free conception of phonological computation, an approach that eschews functionalist notions like markedness, ease of articulation, and so on. We also outline a neural model of the phonetics-phonology interface called Cognitive Phonetics, which transduces innate features to speech articulation and from speech acoustics. These extra-grammatical transduction procedures are also part of the human biological endowment, which leaves no room for language-specific phonetics in our theory of the externalization of language. We show how Cognitive Phonetics can account for traditionally recognized intersegmental coarticulation, as well as the previously unexplored intrasegmental coarticulation, strongly suggesting that the basic units of speech production are transduced features.
doi:10.1017/cnj.2022.35 fatcat:mmvjp4532bhwfmgx5xidefi6iy