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On the role of regular phonological variation in lexical access: Evidence from voice assimilation in French

Abstract : The present study investigated whether lexical access is affected by a regular phonological variation in connected speech: voice assimilation in French. Two associative priming experiments were conducted to determine whether strongly assimilated, potentially ambiguous word forms activate the conceptual representation of the underlying word. Would the ambiguous word form [sud] (either assimilated soute 'hold' or soude 'soda') facilitate "bagage" 'luggage', which is semantically related to soute but not to soude? In Experiment 1, words in either canonical or strongly assimilated form were presented as primes. Both forms primed their related target to the same extent. Potential lexical ambiguity did not modulate priming effects. In Experiment 2, the primes such as assimilated soute pronounced [sud] used in Experiment 1 were replaced with primes such as soude canonically pronounced [sud]. No semantic priming effect was obtained with these primes. Therefore, the effect observed for assimilated forms in Experiment 1 cannot be due to overall phonological proximity between canonical and assimilated forms. We propose that listeners must recover the intended words behind the assimilated forms through the exploitation of the remaining traces of the underlying form, however subtle these traces may be.
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Natalie Snoeren, Juan Seguí, Pierre Hallé. On the role of regular phonological variation in lexical access: Evidence from voice assimilation in French. Cognition, Elsevier, 2008, 2 (108), pp.B512-B521. ⟨10.1016/j.cognition.2008.02.008⟩. ⟨halshs-00684074⟩

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