Producing and recognizing words with two pronunciation variants: evidence from novel schwa words
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AbstractThis study examined the lexical representations and psycholinguistic mechanisms underlying the production and recognition of novel words with two pronunciation variants in French. Participants first learned novel schwa words (e.g., /ʃənyk/), which varied in their alternating status (i.e., whether these words were learned with one or two variants) and, for alternating words, in the frequency of their variants. They were then tested in picture-naming (free or induced) and recognition memory tasks (i.e., deciding whether spoken items were learned during the experiment or not). Results for free naming show an influence of variant frequency on responses, more frequent variants being produced more often. Moreover, our data show an effect of the alternating status of the novel words on naming latencies, with longer latencies for alternating than for nonalternating novel words. These induced naming results suggest that both variants are stored as lexical entries and compete during the lexeme selection process. Results for recognition show an effect of variant frequency on reaction times and no effect of variant type (i.e., schwa versus reduced variant). Taken together, our findings suggest that participants both comprehend and produce novel French schwa words using two lexical representations, one for each variant.