Friday, September 25, 2009

The Pseudoscience of Phonology

This morning I finished a version of BlackListTweet. This is an application that tracks and blocks twitter spam from twitter accounts. While writing this I also wrote an application to track twitter favorites, I dont have a name for this app yet. Please email your suggestions... I am thinking something like PopTweet.

I still need to design a front end and start the back end process (cron job). I hope to finish the front end tonight. Tonight is web nite. I accidentally deleted my web templates for my new site - chang projects. So, I need to re do those as well. Once those are complete, then I plan on moving the site, and the twitter sites, over to a media temple virtual server. That way I have complete control over the server and I can install csound (and finish doeraetweet.

This morning I reread some of The Oxford Handbook of Computational Linguistics, which is actually a fantastic book and very readable. I am slowly adding different algorithms and heuristics for detecting spam tweets, and I wanted to check up on some NLP (natural language processing) algorithms. I could not help, but start rereading the book, starting with the chapter on Phonology. It sounds like phrenology- which is a pseudoscience- phonology is just a social science - which I suppose is also a pseudo science. Phonology is the study of sounds in language.

Science on the one hand refers to a methodology, however I think that science also refers to subject matter. Scientific subject matter can be verified and falsified via scientific methodology. Really I think linguistics is a set of heuristics and does not meet the possibility of validity via scientific method that should be required of things that are a science. I suppose phonology is in fact a pseudo science.

The section on phonology covered something called free variation, and this really piqued my curisosity. The t in ten, the t in net, and the t in water, are all different types of t sounds. In english we do not have two words ten: one pronounced with the t as in ten and the other as the t in net. In some languages we do have this difference -ten can have two meanings and two pronunciations (or more).

There are myriad ways one can say ten. If I say ten ten times, the t will sound slightly different each time. This diversity is called 'free variation.'

I want to the idea of free variation into my robot singularity song, because a robot really does not have free variation - or a mechanical device does not have free variation (or does it). Speech is a motor process and if the motor process is constant there will be no change. I suppose as components wear down in a robot for example, you will get free variation as well. This is interesting for me to think about. I may to an audio project about free variation.

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