ASA 125th Meeting Ottawa 1993 May

4aSP8. The distinctiveness of word onsets.

David W. Gow, Jr.

Peter C. Gordon

Dept. of Psychol., Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA 02138

Acoustic measurements examined the distinctiveness and salience of word onsets and matched syllables that occurred in non-word-initial position. Three naive speakers rehearsed and read phonemically identical one- and two-word sequences such as ``cartel'' and ``car tell'' under three conditions: citation form, read slowly in sentenial context, or read quickly in sentenial context. Analyses examining the timing of segments and syllables, and the degree of vowel reduction under each condition showed that word-initial syllables were longer, and showed less vowel reduction than their non-word-initial counterparts. These results suggest that word onsets differ acoustically from nonword onsets in a manner that may enhance their perceptual salience. These results are discussed in relationship to the Good Start model of lexical access and lexical segmentation. [Work supported by AFOSR.]