Cutler, A., Norris, D., & Sebastián-Gallés, N.
(2004). Phonemic repertoire and similarity within the vocabulary. In S. Kin, & M. J. Bae (Eds.), Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (Interspeech 2004-ICSLP) (pp. 65-68). Seoul: Sunjijn Printing Co.
Language-specific differences in the size and distribution of the phonemic repertoire can have implications for the task facing listeners in recognising spoken words. A language with more phonemes will allow shorter words and reduced embedding of short words within longer ones, decreasing the potential for spurious lexical competitors to be activated by speech signals. We demonstrate that this is the case via comparative analyses of the vocabularies of English and Spanish. A language which uses suprasegmental as well as segmental contrasts, however, can substantially reduce the extent of spurious embedding.