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Journal Article

Assimilation violation and spoken-language processing: A supplementary report

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Weber, A. (2002). Assimilation violation and spoken-language processing: A supplementary report. Language and Speech, 45, 37-46. doi:10.1177/00238309020450010201.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000F-F188-8
Previous studies have shown that spoken-language processing is inhibited by violation of obligatory regressive assimilation. Weber (2001) replicated this inhibitory effect in a phoneme-monitoring study examining regressive place assimilation of nasals, but found facilitation for violation of progressive assimilation. German listeners detected the velar fricative [x] more quickly when fricative assimilation was violated (e.g., *[bIxt] or *[blInx@n]) than when no violation occurred (e.g., [baxt] or [blu:x@n]). It was argued that a combination of two factors caused facilitation:(1) progressive assimilation creates different restrictions for the monitoring target than regressive assimilation does, and (2) the sequences violating assimilation (e.g., *[Ix]) are novel for German listeners and therefore facilitate fricative detection (novel popout). The present study tested progressive assimilation violation in non-novel sequences using the palatal fricative [C]. Stimuli either violated fricative assimilation (e.g., *[ba:C@l ]) or did not (e.g., [bi: C@l ]). This manipulation does not create novel sequences: sequences like *[a:C] can occur across word boundaries, while *[Ix] cannot. No facilitation was found. However, violation also did not significantly inhibit processing. The results confirm that facilitation depends on the combination of progressive assimilation with novelty of the sequence.