We examine the relationship of lexical representations, pronunciation variation, and word recognition, by investigating effects of two lexical variables: Phonological Neighborhood Density (the number of words that can be formed by a single phoneme substitution, addition, or deletion from the target word), as well as a measure of the perceptual similarity of a target word to other words in the lexicon. We show that perceptual similarity to other words affects recognition, but not production. Phonological Neighborhood Density, on the other hand, affects both word durations and recognition accuracy (words with many neighbors shorten and are difficult recognition targets). We interpret our results as indicating that effects of Phonological Neighborhood Density on pronunciation are not generally due to perceptual similarity of the target to other words. Our results are consistent with a more general line of research demonstrating effects of 'central' processes on 'peripheral' processes such as articulation, as well as effects of modality-specific properties, such as auditory similarity and motor movements, on measures thought to tap central processes.

Susanne Gahl
Julia Strand
Publication date: 
January 13, 2016
Publication type: 
Recent Publication
Gahl, Susanne and Julia Strand. 2016. Many neighborhoods: Phonological and perceptual neighborhood density in lexical production and perception. Journal of Memory and Language 89:162–178. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2015.12.006