The paper aims to present the phenomenon of categorization in speech perception. It commences with showing the diversity and distribution of speech sounds in the world's languages. Next, certain distributional tendencies, such as back vowel rounding and low vowel nasalization, are presented and discussed in the light of auditory and acoustic principles. Categorical perception, as the pivotal concept of the paper, is delineated from a procedural and methodological point of view. Last but not least, the article discusses the arguments against categorization in speech perception as well as various attempts to define a unit of perception other than a phonetic segment. As a conclusion, proposals for the reconciliation between categorical and continuous modes of perception are shown.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.