Resolving ambiguity in familiar and unfamiliar casual speech

Tuinman, A., Mitterer, H., & Cutler, A. (2012). Resolving ambiguity in familiar and unfamiliar casual speech. Journal of Memory and Language, 66, 530-544. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2012.02.001.
In British English, the phrase Canada aided can sound like Canada raided if the speaker
links the two vowels at the word boundary with an intrusive /r/. There are subtle phonetic
differences between an onset /r/ and an intrusive /r/, however. With cross-modal priming
and eye-tracking, we examine how native British English listeners and non-native
(Dutch) listeners deal with the lexical ambiguity arising from this language-specific
connected speech process. Together the results indicate that the presence of /r/ initially
activates competing words for both listener groups; however, the native listeners rapidly
exploit the phonetic cues and achieve correct lexical selection. In contrast, these
advanced L2 listeners to English failed to recover from the /r/-induced competition, and
failed to match native performance in either task. The /r/-intrusion process, which adds a
phoneme to speech input, thus causes greater difficulty for L2 listeners than connectedspeech
processes which alter or delete phonemes.
Publication type
Journal article
Publication date

Share this page