Is vowel normalization independent of lexical processing?

Mitterer, H. (2006). Is vowel normalization independent of lexical processing? Phonetica, 63(4), 209-229. doi:10.1159/000097306.
Vowel normalization in speech perception was investigated in three experiments. The range of the second formant in a carrier phrase was manipulated and this affected the perception of a target vowel in a compensatory fashion: A low F2 range in the carrier phrase made it more likely that the target vowel was perceived as a front vowel, that is, with a high F2. Recent experiments indicated that this effect might be moderated by the lexical status of the constituents of the carrier phrase. Manipulation of the lexical status in the present experiments, however, did not affect vowel normalization. In contrast, the range of vowels in the carrier phrase did influence vowel normalization. If the carrier phrase consisted of mid-to-high front vowels only, vowel categories shifted only for mid-to-high front vowels. It is argued that these results are a challenge for episodic models of word recognition.
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