Spoken word access: Evidence from statistical analyses of the lexicon

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Abstract

Spoken word access is typically investigated by means of on-line experimentation, yet the lexicon itself contains a wealth of structure from which we can make inferences about processing. I review existing studies of the statistical structure of the English lexicon and conclude the following: (a) the lexicon is shot through with partial but statistically significant correspondences between form and meaning/function, reflecting the brain's predisposition for creating topographic mappings; (b) constraints within the phonology of English concerning the ordering of segments reflect the demands of incremental processing on the part of the listener; (c) conversational ­ "fast" ­ speech involves phonological changes that accentuate important aspects of the structure of the lexicon and protect the intelligibility of speech. Regarding the vexed issue of whether or not top-down processing exists in speech perception, I will argue that statistical studies of the lexicon can complement on-line experimentation and that they are at least consistent with a genuine flow of information from "higher" to "lower" levels of representation and processing.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationISCA Tutorial and Research Workshop (ITRW) on Spoken Word Access Processes
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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