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Vowel mutability and lexical selection in English: Evidence from a word reconstruction task

Abstract

Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique, Paris, France This study introduces a new paradigm for investigating lexical processing. First, an analysis of data from a series of word-spotting experiments is presented suggesting that listeners treat vowels as more mutable than consonants in auditory word recognition in English. In order to assess this hypothesis, a word reconstruction task was devised in which listeners were required to turn word-like nonwords into words by adapting the identity of either one vowel or one consonant. Listeners modified vowel identity more readily than consonant identity. Furthermore, incorrect responses more often involved a vowel change than a consonant change. These findings are compatible with the proposal that English listeners are equipped to deal with vowel variability by assuming that vowel identity is comparatively underdefined. The results are discussed in the light of theoretical accounts of speech processing.

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Correspondence to Brit Van Ooijen.

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This research was carried out while B.V.O. was at the MRC Applied Psychology Unit, Cambridge, United Kingdom; this research was financed by the Faculty of Letters, University of Leiden, The Netherlands. Further analyses and reporting of the findings took place at

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Van Ooijen, B. Vowel mutability and lexical selection in English: Evidence from a word reconstruction task. Mem Cogn 24, 573–583 (1996). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03201084

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03201084

Keywords

  • Lexical Access
  • Speak Word Recognition
  • Journal Ofthe Acoustical Society ofAmerica
  • Lexical Selection
  • English Listener