Symbol Grounding
  • ISSN 1572-0373
  • E-ISSN: 1572-0381
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The traditional view of symbol grounding seeks to connect an a priori internal representation or ‘form’ to its external referent. But such a ‘form’ is usually itself systematically composed out of more primitive parts (i.e., it is ‘symbolic’), so this view ignores its grounding in the physics of the world. Some previous work simulating multiple talking/listening agents has effectively taken this stance, and shown how a shared discrete speech code (i.e., vowel system) can emerge. Taking the earlier work of Oudeyer, we have extended his model to include a dispersive force intended to account broadly for a speaker’s motivation to increase auditory distinctiveness. New simulations show that vowel systems result that are more representative of the range seen in human languages. These simulations make many profound abstractions and assumptions. Relaxing these by including more physically and physiologically realistic mechanisms for talking and listening is seen as the key to replicating more complex and dynamic aspects of speech, such as consonant-vowel patterning.


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