Thinking soap But Speaking ‘oaps’. The Sound Preparation Period: Backward Calculation From Utterance to Muscle Innervation

Nora Wiedenmann


In this article’s model—on speech and on speech errors, dyscoordinations, and disorders—, the time-course from the muscle innervation impetuses to the utterance of sounds as intended for canonical speech sound sequences is calculated backward. This time-course is shown as the sum of all the known physiological durations of speech sounds and speech gestures that are necessary to produce an utterance. The model introduces two internal clocks, based on positive or negative factors, representing certain physiologically-based time-courses during the sound preparation period (Lautvorspann). The use of these internal clocks show that speech gestures—like other motor activities—work according to a simple serialization principle: Under non-default conditions,
alterations of the time-courses may cause speech errors of sound serialization, dyscoordinations of sounds as observed during first language acquisition, or speech disorders as pathological cases. These alterations of the time-course are modelled by varying the two internal-clock factors. The calculation of time-courses uses as default values the sound durations of the context-dependent Munich PHONDAT Database of Spoken German (see Appendix 4). As a new, human approach, this calculation agrees mathematically with the approach of Linear Programming / Operations Research. This work gives strong support to the fairly old suspicion (of 1908) of the famous Austrian speech error scientist Meringer [15], namely that one mostly thinks and articulates in a different serialization than is audible from one’s uttered sound sequences.


speech production; speech muscle-innervation serialization; sound serialization; speech gesture timing; speech errors; speech pathology; speech disorders; speech physiology; earliest possible sound-related reafferences; ERPs; robotics.

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