Relationships between functional load and auditory confusability under different speech environments

Kang, S. and Cohen, C. (2016) Relationships between functional load and auditory confusability under different speech environments. Interspeech 2016, San Francisco, CA, USA, 08-12 Sep 2016. pp. 1094-1098. (doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2016-906)

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Functional load (FL) is an information-theoretic measure that captures a phoneme’s contribution to successful word identifi- cation. Experimental findings have shown that it can help ex- plain patterns in perceptual accuracy. Here, we ask whether the relationship between FL and perception has larger conse- quences for the structure of a language’s lexicon. Since re- ducing FL minimizes the risk of misidentifying a word in the case where a listener inaccurately perceives the initial phoneme, we predicted that in spoken language, where perceptual accu- racy is important for successful communication, the lexicon will be structured to reduce FL in auditorily confusable initial phonemes more than in written language. To test this predic- tion, we compared FL of all initial phonemes in spoken and academic written genres of the COCA corpus. We found that FL in phoneme pairs in the spoken corpus is overall higher and more variable than in the academic corpus, a natural conse- quence of the smaller lexical inventory characteristic of spoken language. In auditorily confusable pairs, however, this differ- ence is relatively reduced, such that spoken FL decreases rel- ative to academic FL. We argue that this reflects a pressure in spoken language to use words for which inaccurate perception does minimal damage to word identification.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Keywords:Functional load, genre-specific lexical choice, auditory confusability.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cohen, Dr Clara
Authors: Kang, S., and Cohen, C.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics

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