The Case for Subphonemic Attenuation in Inner Speech: Comment on Corley, Brocklehurst, and Moat (2011)

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Corley, Brocklehurst, and Moat (2011) recently demonstrated a phonemic similarity effect for phonological errors in inner speech, claiming that it contradicted Oppenheim and Dell's (2008) characterization of inner speech as lacking subphonemic detail (e.g., features). However, finding an effect in both inner and overt speech is not the same as finding equal effects in inner and overt speech. In this response, I demonstrate that Corley et al.'s data are entirely consistent with the notion that inner speech lacks subphonemic detail and that each of their experiments exhibits a Similarity × Articulation interaction of about the same size that Oppenheim and Dell (2008, 2010) reported in their work. I further show that the major discrepancy between the labs' data lies primarily in the magnitude of the main effect of phonemic similarity and the overall efficiency of error elicitation, and demonstrate that greater similarity effects are associated with lower error rates. This leads to the conclusion that successful speech error research requires finding a sweet spot between too much randomness and not enough data.

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