Speeded detection of vowels and steady-state consonants

Norris, D., Van Ooijen, B., & Cutler, A. (1992). Speeded detection of vowels and steady-state consonants. In J. Ohala, T. Neary, & B. Derwing (Eds.), Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Spoken Language Processing; Vol. 2 (pp. 1055-1058). Alberta: University of Alberta.
We report two experiments in which vowels and steady-state consonants served as targets in a speeded detection task. In the first experiment, two vowels were compared with one voiced and once unvoiced fricative. Response times (RTs) to the vowels were longer than to the fricatives. The error rate was higher for the consonants. Consonants in word-final position produced the shortest RTs, For the vowels, RT correlated negatively with target duration. In the second experiment, the same two vowel targets were compared with two nasals. This time there was no significant difference in RTs, but the error rate was still significantly higher for the consonants. Error rate and length correlated negatively for the vowels only. We conclude that RT differences between phonemes are independent of vocalic or consonantal status. Instead, we argue that the process of phoneme detection reflects more finely grained differences in acoustic/articulatory structure within the phonemic repertoire.
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