Preliminary Expression Analysis. Acoustic and Physiological Variables. Information
As was pointed out in Chap. I, communication by means of language supposes differences, of sound, or of written or printed figures on the expression level, and differentiated morphological, syntactical or semantic units and combinations on the content level. Communication supposes variation. The transfer medium used for communication must not be predictable to 100%. It has to contain at least some element of surprise. An unvaried and unvariable medium would be predictable both along the time axis (a monotonous sound-wave such as a sinuosidal curve with constant amplitude; Fig.7), and along the space axis (an undifferentiated visual stimulus, e.g. a straight line or an unlimited repetition of the same printed figure). As the transmission of the message in a restricted sense (physically) is made only through the minimal expression units and through combinations of these — the physical manifestations of which (as sound-waves and as articulatory movements, or as printed or written figures) are the only outside facts actually present in the passage from brain to brain (from 3–8 in our model in Chap.II) —, we shall examine in this special chapter the expression level and try to give a survey of the principal sound differences, and their physiological correlatesi, the principal task of what is traditionally called general phonetics. That is to say that we must start by examining the amount of information of a sound-wave emanating from the speech apparatus of a human being (5–6 in our model). And we do this to begin with without taking into account any differences of distribution between the possible acoustic stimuli. We shall also permit ourselves in this context to talk about our speech mechanism notwithstanding the well-known fact that, originally, man has no speech organ in the same sense as he has a breathing and a digestive apparatus. The so called organs of speech all have other primary tasks (intake of food, respiration, etc.) and have been adopted secondarily to communication needs. They all still keep their primary functions besides that of speaking. We finally have to take into consideration the reception mechanism (i.e. the human ear) and its particular characteristics.
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