LINGUIST List 8.1529

Sun Oct 26 1997

Sum: Predictability

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>


  1. wzyem, Predictability (fwd)

Message 1: Predictability (fwd)

Date: Sat, 25 Oct 1997 16:55:24 +0800 (CST)
From: wzyem <>
Subject: Predictability (fwd)

Dear Linguist,

On Oct.5th I put on a query entitled "predictability and redundancy."
I owe thanks to the following people for their answers: Peter Daniels,
Daniel E.Collins, Andreas Mengel, Richard Wright Vincent Jenkins and
Paul Boersma.

Peter Daniels said Predictability == Redundancy, it's a tautology.
Daniel Collins cited "Preliminaries to Speech Analysis" by Jakobson,
Fant and Halle to illustrate the relations. He concluded that "the
difference between vowels is predictatable from the palatalization of
the preceding consonant. Therefore, except in special cases, it is
redundant, i.e. not needed to make distinctions. Redundant features
are invoked (play a discriminative role) chiefly when the message
cannot otherwise be interpreted.

Paul Boersma presented an answer in terms of algorithm. He holds that
"predictability is a property of a linguistic analysis while
redundancy is a property of a speaker's grammar and a *possible*
result of predictability. The redundancy that JCH (Jakobson, Cherry
and Halle) refer to, has to do with minimal linguistic description,
and is a *necessary* result of predictability." Richard Wright seems
to disagree with the above answers. His is a phonetician point of
view. I cite some of his lines

Among phoneticians it has long been common knowledge that
"redundancy" and "predictable" phonetic differences are neither.
Given a particular set of phonological contrast, it is difficult
or impossible to predict phonetic details without some knowledge
of those phonetic details.
Given this lack of phonetic redundancy, phonology seems to have
two choices: 1. to propose two modules (phonology, phonetics)...
2. to incorporate all of the non-predictable phonetic detail into
the phonological grammar...

Vincent Jenkins recommended some important article of Information

Shannon C. E.,1948. A Mathematical Theory of Communication. Bell
		Technical Journal 27
Shannon C.E., 1949, Communication in the Presense of Noise. Proc.
 I.R.E. Vol.37 pt 1 (1949), pp 10-21
Miller G. 1981. Language and Speech. Freeman
Herdan, G. 1966, The Advanced Theory of Language as Choice and

Andreas Mengel also holds that the predicatability will result in
redundancy from the view point of information theory. He produced a
very interesting illustration with the drawing of a face.

Best regards
Wang Zhenyu
Room 1056, Building 46
Peking University, 100871
Beijing, China 

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