Vowel articulation affected by word frequency

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  • A frequently replicated finding is that the frequency of words affects their phonetic shape. In English, high frequency words have been shown to contain more centralized vowels than low frequency words. By contrast, a recent study on vowel articulation in German has shown a contrary finding. At the gestural level, tongue movements in HF words showed more extensive vowel targets and less coarticulation with consonants. This paper further evaluates the later finding by taking into account a large set of verbs covering the continuum between high and low frequency. In addition to frequency the effects of two factors were analyzed: inflection (sagt vs. sagen) and speech rate (normal vs. fast). Our results imply that language experience increases the proficiency with which words are articulated: speakers are able to plan and target tongue movements earlier.

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    Article (Published)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International