Listeners’ processing of a given reduced word pronunciation variant directly reflects their exposure to this variant: evidence from native listeners and learners of French
Brand, S., & Ernestus, M.
Listeners’ processing of a given reduced word pronunciation variant directly reflects their exposure to this variant: evidence from native listeners and learners of French. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 71
(5), 1240-1259. doi:10.1080/17470218.2017.1313282.
n casual conversations, words often lack segments. This study investigates whether listeners rely on
their experience with reduced word pronunciation variants during the processing of single segment
reduction. We tested three groups of listeners in a lexical decision experiment with French words
produced either with or without word-medial schwa (e.g., /ʀəvy/ and /ʀvy/ for revue). Participants also
rated the relative frequencies of the two pronunciation variants of the words. If the recognition
accuracy and reaction times for a given listener group correlate best with the frequencies of occurrence
holding for that given listener group, recognition is influenced by listeners’ exposure to these variants.
Native listeners' relative frequency ratings correlated well with their accuracy scores and RTs. Dutch
advanced learners' accuracy scores and RTs were best predicted by their own ratings. In contrast, the
accuracy and RTs from Dutch beginner learners of French could not be predicted by any relative
frequency rating; the rating task was probably too difficult for them. The participant groups showed
behaviour reflecting their difference in experience with the pronunciation variants. Our results strongly
suggest that listeners store the frequencies of occurrence of pronunciation variants, and consequently
the variants themselves