Perceptual compensation for voice assimilation of German fricatives

Kuzla, C., Mitterer, H., Ernestus, M., & Cutler, A. (2006). Perceptual compensation for voice assimilation of German fricatives. In P. Warren, & I. Watson (Eds.), Proceedings of the 11th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology (pp. 394-399).
In German, word-initial lax fricatives may be produced with substantially reduced glottal vibration after voiceless obstruents. This assimilation occurs more frequently and to a larger extent across prosodic word boundaries than across phrase boundaries. Assimilatory devoicing makes the fricatives more similar to their tense counterparts and could thus hinder word recognition. The present study investigates how listeners cope with assimilatory devoicing. Results of a cross-modal priming experiment indicate that listeners compensate for assimilation in appropriate contexts. Prosodic structure moderates compensation for assimilation: Compensation occurs especially after phrase boundaries, where devoiced fricatives are sufficiently long to be confused with their tense counterparts.
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