Facilitatory effects of vowel epenthesis on word processing in Dutch

Van Donselaar, W., Kuijpers, C. T., & Cutler, A. (1999). Facilitatory effects of vowel epenthesis on word processing in Dutch. Journal of Memory and Language, 41, 59-77. doi:10.1006/jmla.1999.2635.
We report a series of experiments examining the effects on word processing of insertion of an optional epenthetic vowel in word-final consonant clusters in Dutch. Such epenthesis turns film, for instance, into film. In a word-reversal task listeners treated words with and without epenthesis alike, as monosyllables, suggesting that the variant forms both activate the same canonical representation, that of a monosyllabic word without epenthesis. In both lexical decision and word spotting, response times to recognize words were significantly faster when epenthesis was present than when the word was presented in its canonical form without epenthesis. It is argued that addition of the epenthetic vowel makes the liquid consonants constituting the first member of a cluster more perceptible; a final phoneme-detection experiment confirmed that this was the case. These findings show that a transformed variant of a word, although it contacts the lexicon via the representation of the canonical form, can be more easily perceptible than that canonical form.
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