Neighbourhood effects on error rates in speech production

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Models of speech production differ on whether phonological neighbourhoods should affect processing, and on whether effects should be facilitatory or inhibitory. Inhibitory effects of large neighbourhoods have been argued to underlie apparent anti-frequency effects, whereby high-frequency default features are more prone to mispronunciation errors than low-frequency nondefault features. Data from the original SLIPs experiments that found apparent anti-frequency effects are analysed for neighbourhood effects. Effects are facilitatory: errors are significantly less likely for words with large numbers of neighbours that share the characteristic that is being primed for error (“friends”). Words in the neighbourhood that do not share the target characteristic (“enemies”) have little effect on error rates. Neighbourhood effects do not underlie the apparent anti-frequency effects. Implications for models of speech production are discussed.

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