Effects of Neighborhood Density on Adult Word Repetition

Skott E. Freedman, Jessica A. Barlow


Presumable lexical competition has been found to result in higher perceptual accuracy for words with few versus many neighbors. Previous studies have typically only analyzed the lexical-semantic level, however. In order to also explore the possibility of phonological effects, a word repetition task was administered to 46 typical adults in which 80 stimuli differed only in neighborhood density. In contrast to previous studies, verbal responses were elicited in order to analyze productions holistically and segmentally at the phonological level. An additional error analysis examined differences in neighborhood density between target words and substitutions. Findings revealed that words with more neighbors facilitated recognition, and were more accurately repeated than those with fewer neighbors. When a target word was misperceived, its substitution tended to be higher in neighborhood density, unrelated to word frequency. In order to interpret these results, an account of lexical competition is re-visited with consideration of characteristics of the lexicon discovered using graph theory (Vitevitch, 2008).

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/ijel.v3n2p1

International Journal of English Linguistics   ISSN 1923-869X (Print)   ISSN 1923-8703 (Online)

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