Articulatory-functional view of speech and experimental linguistics

Yi Xu

Presented at International symposium on broadening the perspective of linguistic research, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai, China, 2008

It will be argued in this paper that, contrary to the widely accepted view, the driving force of speech and language is not rules in the form of a grammar, but communicative meanings to be conveyed from the speaker to the listener. These communicative meanings are parallel to each other with no overall hierarchical organizations. They each have to be encoded through the articulation process whose various intrinsic constraints leave indelible imprints on the output signal. In addition to demonstrating how it is applicable to the phonetic aspect of speech, it will be argued further that this articulatory-functional view is potentially also applicable to other aspects of speech such as syntax and pragmatics. Finally, it will be argued that true applicability of this view to various aspects of speech can be clearly demonstrated only through empirical research, namely, experimental linguistics, which is likely the future of linguistics.

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