Brouwer, S., Mitterer, H., & Huettig, F.
(2009). Phonological competition during the recognition of spontaneous speech: Effects of linguistic context and spectral cues. Poster presented at 157th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Portland, OR.
How do listeners recognize reduced forms that occur in spontaneous speech, such as “puter” for “computer”? To this end, eye-tracking experiments
were performed in which participants heard a sentence and saw four printed words on a computer screen. The auditory stimuli contained canonical
and reduced forms from a spontaneous speech corpus in different amounts of linguistic context. The four printed words were a “canonical form” competitor e.g., “companion”, phonologically similar to “computer”, a “reduced form” competitor e.g., “pupil”, phonologically similar to “puter” and two unrelated distractors. The results showed, first, that reduction inhibits word recognition overall. Second, listeners look more often to the “reduced form” competitor than to the “canonical form” competitor when reduced forms are presented in isolation or in a phonetic context. In full context, however, both competitors attracted looks: early rise of the “reduced form” competitor and late rise of the “canonical form” competitor. This “late rise” of the “canonical form” competitor was not observed when we replaced the original /p/ from “puter” with a real onset /p/.
This indicates that phonetic detail and semantic/syntactic context are necessary for the recognition of reduced forms.