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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2009 Jun;35(3):896-910. doi: 10.1037/a0013160.

The strength and time course of lexical activation of pronunciation variants.

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Department of Psychology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210-1222, USA.


Spoken words undergo frequent and often predictable variation in pronunciation. One form of variation is medial /t/ deletion, in which words like center and cantaloupe are pronounced without acoustic cues indicative of syllable-initial /t/. Three experiments examined the consequences of this missing phonetic information on lexical activation. In Experiment 1, the Ganong Paradigm (W. F. Ganong, 1980) was used to measure the strength of activation of /t/-deleted variants, comparing labeling and response time results with their citation counterparts. Phonemic restoration was used in Experiment 2 to generalize the results. In Experiment 3, Experiment 1 was replicated with a large number of trials so that the time course of activation could be mapped. Results show that lexical influences on labeling begin sooner and reach a higher level for the citation than for the /t/-deleted variant, although the overall shapes of their activation profiles are similar.

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