Academic journal article Perception and Psychophysics

Processing Variant Forms in Spoken Word Recognition: The Role of Variant Frequency

Academic journal article Perception and Psychophysics

Processing Variant Forms in Spoken Word Recognition: The Role of Variant Frequency

Article excerpt

Recognition of a spoken word phonological variant-schwa vowel deletion (e.g., corporate [arrow right] corp 'rate)-was investigated in vowel detection (absent/present) and syllable number judgment (two or three syllables) tasks. Variant frequency corpus analyses (Patterson, LoCasto, & Connine, 2003) were used to select words with either high or low schwa vowel deletion rates. Speech continua were created for each word in which schwa vowel length was manipulated (unambiguous schwa-present and schwa-absent endpoints, along with intermediate ambiguous tokens). Matched control nonwords were created with identical schwa vowel continua and surrounding segments. The low-deletion-rate words showed more three-syllable judgments than did the high-deletion-rate words. Matched control nonwords did not differ as a function of deletion rate. Experiments 2 and 3 showed a lexical decision reaction time advantage for more frequent surface forms, as compared with infrequent ones, for schwa-deleted (Experiment 2) and schwa-present (Experiment 3) stimuli. The results are discussed in terms of representations of variant forms of words based on variant frequency.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Researchers in the field of spoken language processing have long grappled with the issue of how variability in the speech signal is accommodated by the listener. The picture that has emerged from a wide variety of research domains is that listeners appear to encode the variability that is experienced in the speech they hear. In the processing of speech sounds, Miller (2001) has shown that listeners encode variability within a phonetic category, and Norris, McQueen, and Cutler (2003) have demonstrated that listeners can tune existing categories to accommodate new dialects. Similar issues have been investigated for spoken word recognition, and the focus has been on how listeners accommodate variability among talkers (Nygaard & Pisoni, 1995). One general finding has been that individual-speaker information appears to be represented in memory and accessed during spoken word recognition (Goldinger, 1998; Mullennix, 1997). More recently, Kisilevsky et al. (2003) have shown that information specific to a mother's voice is encoded in utero. Other research has demonstrated that emotional tone of voice (Nygaard & Lunders, 2002), intonation (Church & Schacter, 1994), and vocal effort (Nygaard, Hurt, & Queen, 2000) are also represented when spoken language is processed. The present research posed a similar question for the processing of phonological variants (alternative pronunciations of spoken words). Specifically, we investigated the question of whether listeners represent phonological variants in lexical memory on the basis of form frequency occurrence (phonological variant frequency) and utilize that information when processing spoken words.

Phonological variant frequency refers to the experienced production frequency of a particular phonological variant, relative to an alternative. The notion of variant frequency differs from typically experienced lexical frequency metrics (simple frequency counts) that have been used to predict performance in a wide variety of word recognition tasks (Balota, 1994). The robust and ubiquitous nature of lexical frequency effects has shaped theoretical assumptions about the representation of lexical form (Lively, Pisoni, & Goldinger, 1994). Occurrence frequency has also been implicated in meaning activation of ambiguous words (Binder & Rayner, 1998). In the research domains of word recognition and retrieval of lexical meaning, the empirical results show that higher occurrence frequency (operationalized by large- or small-scale analyses of language use) is correlated with faster and/or less errorful processing.

The central role for frequency in predicting lexical processing emphasizes the notion that experience is an important organizing dimension of lexical knowledge. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.