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Title: Why reduce? phonological neighborhood density and phonetic reduction in spontaneous speech
Authors: Gahl, S
Yao, Y 
Johnson, K
Keywords: Lexical neighorhood
Language production
Lexical access
Audience design
Pronunciation variation
Spontaneous speech corpus
Issue Date: May-2012
Publisher: Elsevier
Source: Journal of memory and language, May, 2012, v. 66, no. 4, p. 789-806 How to cite?
Journal: Journal of memory and language 
Abstract: Frequent or contextually predictable words are often phonetically reduced, i.e. shortened and produced with articulatory undershoot. Explanations for phonetic reduction of predictable forms tend to take one of two approaches: Intelligibility-based accounts hold that talkers maximize intelligibility of words that might otherwise be difficult to recognize; production-based accounts hold that variation reflects the speed of lexical access and retrieval in the language production system. Here we examine phonetic variation as a function of phonological neighborhood density, capitalizing on the fact that words from dense phonological neighborhoods tend to be relatively difficult to recognize, yet easy to produce. We show that words with many phonological neighbors tend to be phonetically reduced (shortened in duration and produced with more centralized vowels) in connected speech, when other predictors of phonetic variation are brought under statistical control. We argue that our findings are consistent with the predictions of production-based accounts of pronunciation variation.
ISSN: 0749-596X
DOI: 10.1016/j.jml.2011.11.006
Rights: © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Memory and Language. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Memory and Language, vol. 66, no. 4 (May 2012), p. 789-806, DOI: 10.1016/j.jml.2011.11.006
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