Sixth International Conference on Spoken Language Processing
October 16-20, 2000
Assimilation, Ambiguity, and the Feature Parsing Problem
David W. Gow Jr.
Massachusetts General Hospital, Salem State College,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA
Productive phonological processes including English
coronal place assimilation appear to neutralize some lexical
contrasts, and thus pose problems for spoken word recognition.
The current work explores two questions: (1) can strong
spontaneous assimilation create lexical ambiguity, and (2) how
do listeners resolve potential lexical ambiguity. Two form
priming experiments explored lexical activation created by
strongly assimilated, potentially ambiguous prime items. In the
first experiment listeners showed selective priming for the item
corresponding to the underlying form of the probe item despite
its surface similarity to another word. The second experiment
replicated the first, but with post-assimilation context replaced
by silence. The loss of this context lead to parallel access of
items corresponding to both the underlying and apparent surface
forms of the prime. It is suggested that assimilated coronals
simultaneously encode coronal and non-coronal place and that
listeners disambiguate conflicting place cues by associating
coronality with the final segment of the assimilated item, and
non-coronality with the subsequent segment.
Gow Jr., David W. (2000):
"Assimilation, ambiguity, and the feature parsing problem",
In ICSLP-2000, vol.2, 535-538.