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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2009 Feb;35(1):244-63. doi: 10.1037/a0012730.

Processing reduced word-forms in speech perception using probabilistic knowledge about speech production.

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Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Wundtlaan, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Two experiments examined how Dutch listeners deal with the effects of connected-speech processes, specifically those arising from word-final /t/ reduction (e.g., whether Dutch [tas] is tas, bag, or a reduced-/t/ version of tast, touch). Eye movements of Dutch participants were tracked as they looked at arrays containing 4 printed words, each associated with a geometrical shape. Minimal pairs (e.g., tas/tast) were either both above (boven) or both next to (naast) different shapes. Spoken instructions (e.g., "Klik op het woordje tas boven de ster," [Click on the word bag above the star]) thus became unambiguous only on their final words. Prior to disambiguation, listeners' fixations were drawn to /t/-final words more when boven than when naast followed the ambiguous sequences. This behavior reflects Dutch speech-production data: /t/ is reduced more before /b/ than before /n/. We thus argue that probabilistic knowledge about the effect of following context in speech production is used prelexically in perception to help resolve lexical ambiguities caused by continuous-speech processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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