The Effect of Phoneme Distribution on Perceptual Similarity in English

Emma O’Neill, Julie Carson-Berndsen


This paper investigates the extent to which native speaker perceptions regarding the similarity between phonemes of English are influenced by their distributional properties. A similarity hierarchy model based on the distribution of consonantal phonemes in the English language was generated by creating phoneme-embeddings from contextual information. We compare this to similarity models based on phonological feature theory and on native speaker perception. Characteristics of the perception-based model are shown to appear in the distribution-based model whilst not being captured by the feature-based model. This not only provides evidence of similarity perceptions being influenced by distributional properties but is an argument for incorporating distributional information alongside phonological features when modelling perceptual similarity.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2019-3042

Cite as: O’Neill, E., Carson-Berndsen, J. (2019) The Effect of Phoneme Distribution on Perceptual Similarity in English. Proc. Interspeech 2019, 1941-1945, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2019-3042.


@inproceedings{O’Neill2019,
  author={Emma O’Neill and Julie Carson-Berndsen},
  title={{The Effect of Phoneme Distribution on Perceptual Similarity in English}},
  year=2019,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2019},
  pages={1941--1945},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2019-3042},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2019-3042}
}