The Effect of Phonological Neighborhood Density on Vowel Articulation Recent literature suggests that phonological neighborhood density and word frequency can affect speech production, in addition to the well-documented effects that they have on speech perception. This article describes 2 experiments that examined how phonological neighborhood density influences the durations and formant frequencies of adults’ productions of vowels in real ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 2004
The Effect of Phonological Neighborhood Density on Vowel Articulation
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Benjamin Munson
    University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Nancy Pearl Solomon
    Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: Munso005@umn.edu
  • Contact author: Benjamin Munson, Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, University of Minnesota, 115 Shevlin Hall, 164 Pillsbury Drive, SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. E-mail: Munso005@umn.edu
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 2004
The Effect of Phonological Neighborhood Density on Vowel Articulation
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2004, Vol. 47, 1048-1058. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/078)
History: Received November 26, 2003 , Revised March 15, 2004 , Accepted April 5, 2004
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2004, Vol. 47, 1048-1058. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/078)
History: Received November 26, 2003; Revised March 15, 2004; Accepted April 5, 2004

Recent literature suggests that phonological neighborhood density and word frequency can affect speech production, in addition to the well-documented effects that they have on speech perception. This article describes 2 experiments that examined how phonological neighborhood density influences the durations and formant frequencies of adults’ productions of vowels in real words. In Experiment 1, 10 normal speakers produced words that covaried in phonological neighborhood density and word frequency. Infrequent words with many phonological neighbors were produced with shorter durations and more expanded vowel spaces than frequent words with few phonological neighbors. Results of this experiment confirmed that this effect was not related to the duration of the vowels constituting the high- and low-density words. In Experiment 2, 15 adults produced words that varied in both word frequency and neighborhood density. Neighborhood density affected vowel articulation in both high- and low-frequency words. Moreover, frequent words were produced with more contracted vowel spaces than infrequent words. There was no interaction between these factors, and the vowel duration did not vary as a function of neighborhood density. Taken together, the results suggest that neighborhood density affects vowel production independent of word frequency and vowel duration.

Acknowledgments
The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private views of the authors and are not to be construed as official or as reflecting the views of the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.
The results of Experiment 1 were presented at the 2003 annual convention of the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association in Chicago, IL. This research was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants R03 DC06096 to Nancy Pearl Solomon and R03 DC05702 to Benjamin Munson and by the University of Minnesota through laboratory setup funds to Benjamin Munson. We thank Molly Babel, Anne Benkusky, Nancy DeBoe, Shayla Manthei, and Cyndie Swenson for assistance in participant recruitment, data collection, and data analysis. We also are grateful for the comments given by reviewers of drafts of this work. Finally, we acknowledge the hard work of Pauline Welby in writing Praat scripts to automate the data analyses.
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