ASA 129th Meeting - Washington, DC - 1995 May 30 .. Jun 06

4aSC7. Phonotactic and metrical influences on subjective ratings of spoken nonsense words.

Michael S. Vitevitch

Paul A. Luce

Language Perception Lab., Dept. of Psych., SUNY, Buffalo, NY 14260

Jan Charles-Luce

David Kemmerer

SUNY at Buffalo

This research examined English speakers' intuitions about the phonological ``goodness'' of nonsense words. Subjects rated bisyllabic, CVCCVC nonsense words that varied in phonotactic probability and stress placement. Using a ten-point scale, subjects judged how English-like the nonsense words sounded. Although all nonsense words were phonotactically legal in English, subjects showed strong preferences for stimuli composed of highly probable phonotactic contributions. Moreover, subjects judged nonsense words with strong--weak stress patterns as constituting ``better'' sounding English words than nonsense words with weak--strong patterns. No interaction between phonotactic probability and stress was observed. These results will be discussed in light of recent findings regarding adults' (Auer and Luce, 1993) and infants' (Jusczyk, Luce, and Charles-Luce, 1994) sensitivity to the phonotactic configurations of spoken stimuli. [Work supported by NIDCD.]