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Preferential scaling of certain selected distinctive features

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The specific purpose of this study was to determine whether or not a hierarchical structure exists within the phonological domain of distinctive features. The secondary purpose was to determine whether the Chomsky and Halle (1968) Distinctive Feature System is relevant to and descriptive of the perceptual domain of subjects in a speech processing mode. For investigative purposes and based upon related research, an assumption of distinctive feature realization is nurtured. The evaluation of the subjects' responses was obtained through eliciting judgments of saliency on minimally contrastive members of stimulus sets. The CV-syllable was utilized in order to maximize acoustic and minimize semantic effects. Results indicate that a hierarchy exists with distinctive features. Voice was found least salient, coronal more salient, and strident most salient. In addition, the study revealed that memory is a crucial factor in saliency with coronal versus strident, while the feature contrasts are more important in judgments of voice versus coronal and voice versus strident.

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Monroe Stewart, J., Barach, C. Preferential scaling of certain selected distinctive features. J Psycholinguist Res 10, 167–178 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01068036

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  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Distinctive Feature
  • Hierarchical Structure
  • Processing Mode
  • Related Research