P* Group, 11/25 – Rachel Soo

At this week’s P group meeting, Nov 25 1pm, Rachel Soo, a PhD student in University of British Columbia, will give a presentation on “Recognition and representation of Cantonese sound change variants in a bilingual lexicon”.

Abstract: Systematic phonetic variation within and across languages and dialects exposes listeners to different pronunciation variants. While previous research has shown that speech perception may be robust to phonetic variation, the effects on spoken word recognition do not necessarily follow suit. I present joint work with Molly Babel examining phonetic variation through the lens of an ongoing sound change in Cantonese involving word-initial [n] and [l] in two primed lexical decision tasks (Experiment 1: Immediate repetition priming task, Experiment 2: Long distance priming task). Our main question is: How are sound change pronunciation variants recognized and represented in a bilingual lexicon? The results of both experiments suggest that (1) [n]- and [l]-initial variants are processed equivalently in both short and long-term spoken word recognition, and (2) while the [n]-initial “prestige” variant may hold a preferential status, regular exposure to Cantonese endows bilingual listeners with the perceptual flexibility to dually-map pronunciation variants to a single lexical-representation.

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