5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

Categorical Perception: Important Phenomenon or Lasting Myth?

Dominic W. Massaro

University of California, Santa Cruz, USA

Categorical perception, or the perceived equality of instances within a phoneme category, has been a central concept in the experimental and theoretical investigation of speech perception. It can be found as fact in most introductory textbooks in perception, cognition, linguistics and cognitive science. This paper analyzes the reasons for the persistent endurance of this concept. A variety of empirical and theoretical research findings are described in order to inform and hopefully to provide a more critical look at this pervasive concept. Given the demise of categorical perception, it is necessary to shift our theoretical focus to how multiple sources of continuous information are processed to support the perception of spoken language.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Massaro, Dominic W. (1998): "Categorical perception: important phenomenon or lasting myth?", In ICSLP-1998, paper 0970.