Speech perception is a huge and fascinating subject. It is perhaps the area where phonetics and psychology work most closely together. In PHON2 we can only look at the subject in a fairly elementary way, but we can point the way to further study.

To see a general list of useful sites, click here Many of these are linked to text later in this tutorial.

Speech perception looks at the process of how the acoustic signal is converted into a meaningful message in the brain of the hearer. The process is incredibly complex, but the speech perception mechanism is a beautiful piece of engineering.

The first stage is that of sensation. The acoustic signal is detected by the ear: the sound wave consists of patterns of vibration in the air, which means that it consists of variations in air pressure. But before the brain can get to work on the signal, that signal must be converted into a completely different form: it must be converted into impulses in the nervous system. The way nerve cells communicate with each other is basically electrical. In studying phonetics, it is not necessary to learn exactly how the ear works, but if you would like to learn about it, here are some links:

INFORMATION ABOUT THE EAR:   click 1; click 2; click 3; 

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