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J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2007 Dec;50(6):1466-80.

A perceptual correlate of the labial-coronal effect.

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Institut de la Communication Parlée, UMR CNRS N 5009, Université Stendhal, BP25, 38040 Grenoble Cedex 9, France.



Statistical studies conducted in various languages on both infants and adults have revealed an intersyllabic preference for initiating words with a labial consonant-vowel-coronal consonant sequence. Speech motor constraints have been proposed to explain this so-called labial-coronal effect. This study was designed to test for a possible perceptual correlate of the labial-coronal effect in French adults.


The authors examined the perceptual stabilities of repeatedly presented disyllabic sequences, involving either a labial-vowel-coronal-vowel (LC) or a coronal-vowel-labial-vowel (CL) phonological structure. With this aim, they exploited the verbal transformation effect, which refers to the perceptual changes experienced while listening to a speech form cycled in rapid and continuous repetition. Two experiments were carried out, involving either voiced or unvoiced plosive consonants.


In both experiments, a greater stability and attractiveness was observed for LC stimuli, which suggests that in a (...)LCLC(...) flow, the listener could more naturally provide a segmentation into LC chunks.


This study demonstrates that the labial-coronal effect also occurs in the course of online speech processing. This result is interpreted in relation with theories assuming a link between perception and action in the human speech processing system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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