Segmenting speech without a lexicon: The roles of phonotactics and speech source
Infants face the difficult problem of segmenting continuous speech into words without the benefit of a fully developed lexicon. Several sources of information in speech might help infants solve this problem, including prosody, semantic correlations and phonotactics. Research to date has focused on determining to which of these sources infants might be sensitive, but little work has been done to determine the potential usefulness of each source. The computer simulations reported here are a first attempt to measure the usefulness of distributional and phonotactic information in segmenting phoneme sequences. The algorithms hypothesize different segmentations of the input into words and select the best hypothesis according to the Minimum Description Length principle. Our results indicate that while there is some useful information in both phoneme distributions and phonotactic rules, the combination of both sources is most useful.