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Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2006 Oct;59(10):1681-90.

Does word frequency affect lexical selection in speech production?

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GRNC, Parc Científic Universitat de Barcelona, & Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, Spain.


We evaluated whether lexical selection in speech production is affected by word frequency by means of two experiments. In Experiment 1 participants named pictures using utterances with the structure "pronoun + verb + adjective". In Experiment 2 participants had to perform a gender decision task on the same pictures. Access to the noun's grammatical gender is needed in both tasks, and therefore lexical selection (lemma retrieval) is required. However, retrieval of the phonological properties (lexeme retrieval) of the referent noun is not needed to perform the tasks. In both experiments we observed faster latencies for high-frequency pictures than for low-frequency pictures. This frequency effect was stable over four repetitions of the stimuli. Our results suggest that lexical selection (lemma retrieval) is sensitive to word frequency. This interpretation runs against the hypothesis that a word's frequency exerts its effects only at the level at which the phonological properties of words are retrieved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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