ASA 127th Meeting M.I.T. 1994 June 6-10

3pSP13. Durational characteristics of proper names common words.

D. H. Whalen

Haskins Labs., 270 Crown St., New Haven, CT 06511

Heidi E. Wenk

Yale Univ.

Haskins Labs.

Previous research has shown that infrequent words are longer in pure frequency lists than frequent words. Lists with proper/common homonyms (e.g., Grant/grant) were read as quickly as possible, with a surprising result: Although (printed) names are less frequent than words, name lists were faster than word lists. This could be due to the difficulty of focusing on one aspect of a homonym, commonness of name lists, greater frequency for names in speech, or special treatment for names. When only one word or name was read at a time, however, the names were longer in duration. This suggests that frequency works for names as it does for words, but that lists in which all items have similar or limited semantics are easier to produce. [Work supported by NIH Grant No. DC-00825.]