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Socially-Conditioned Links Between Words And Phonetic Realizations

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Title:Socially-Conditioned Links Between Words And Phonetic Realizations
Authors:Kim, Jonny
Contributors:Linguistics (department)
Keywords:lexical recognition
word characteristics
talker information
Date Issued:May 2018
Publisher:University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Abstract:Previous research on speech perception has accumulated evidence for a claim that phonetic detail in previously encountered utterances is stored in lexical memories, and speech processing benefits from listeners’ probabilistic knowledge about distributions of word-specific phonetic patterns over social categories of the speakers. Building on that claim, this dissertation explores the degree to which word recognition is informed by the experience-based links between phonetic and lexical information through experiments using Korean words and phonetic realizations indexed to different age groups.
In Chapter II, two lexical decision experiments replicate Walker and Hay’s (2011) finding that lexical access is improved when the word is produced by a talker from the age group who produce the word most frequently. Further, Experiment 1 demonstrates that the effect of age-congruent realizations is enhanced when the word is stereotypically associated with age groups, beyond the effect of distributional associations between words and age groups. In Experiment 2, the effect arose even when listeners held no expectation about the talker prior to the word onset, suggesting that lexical access is rapidly boosted by socio-indexical phonetic cues that are congruent with socio-indexical information of the word.
In Chapter III, another lexical decision experiment (Experiment 3) provides evidence that exposure to a single socially-indexed phonetic variant – as opposed to target words produced by varying talkers – is sufficient to prime words that are associated with similar social information. Words were recognized faster when the word was preceded by a prime word that contained a phonetic variant associated with the age group that the word is associated with. However, the effect did not occur when the prime word produced by the same talker contained a phonetic variant that is not associated with age, suggesting that the priming process may not require explicit awareness of the current talker’s identity or activation of abstract representations of age-related information.
In Chapter IV, an eye-tracking lexical identification experiment (Experiment 4) tested whether processing during phonetic ambiguity at the word onset was affected by age-indexed information of the word and the talker, and this was tested while two orthographic word candidates and the talker’s voice were provided prior to the auditory stimuli. It was hypothesized that a candidate word associated with the same age with the talker would be fixated more frequently before the target word was disambiguated, which would provide evidence that lexical access is consulted in real time by sociophonetic detail encoded in lexical representations. However, an unexpected pattern was found; more frequent fixations and faster identification responses were observed for words produced by age-incongruent talkers in a time region following the retrieval of phonetic disambiguation cue. Given the presence of pre-activated age-related information from the words and the talker, the results demonstrate listeners’ preparatory attention to, and strategic use of, prior information about the socially-conditioned associations in an effort to overcome the predicted socially-incongruent phonetic realizations of the words.
The overall results are consistent with predictions of experience-based cognitive mechanisms of language processing; memories and recognition processes of phonetic and lexical information are jointly shaped by listeners’ socially-conditioned experience with phonetic variation and lexical use, and listeners can selectively adapt to sociophonetic variability and contextual information in accordance with communicative purposes. Further issues that the results raise will be discussed, including empirical questions that need to be addressed to better understand the role of socio-indexical phonetic detail in speech perception.
Description:Ph.D. Thesis. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 2018.
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Linguistics

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