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

4pSP14. The representation of the place of nasal stops in word recognition.

James T. Myers

Paul A. Luce

Dept. of Psychol., SUNY at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14260

Predictable aspects of the representations used in the perception of a word may not be necessary for recognition of the word to be successful. The present study investigates whether relative predictability of place in nasal stops affects recognition of words. Subjects were given an auditory lexical decision task in which each target time was preceded by an auditory prime. Target words ended in /mp/ (BUMP), /nt/ (BUNT), /m/ (BUM), or /n/ (BUN). Primes ended in /m/ (UM), /nl/ (UN), or /k/ (UK). Place of the nasal stops is predictable in /mp/ and /nt/ words given the place of the following obstruent. Some current theories of phonological underspecification also claim that place in /n/ words is predictable, assuming that coronal is universally the default place. It was found that /mp/, /nt/, and /n/ words were primed equally well by /m/ and /n/ primes, implying that the specifics of place were not relevant in these words. By contrast, /m/ words were primed significantly better by /m/ primes relative to /n/ primes, implying that the representation of place in /m/ words is relevant for recognition. [Work supported by NIDCD.]