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Sonority as a constraint on word identification processes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2008

Sarah S. Christman*
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Rory A. Depaolis
University of Wales, Bangor
Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73190


This study was undertaken as a sequel to DePaolis (1991) to explore the role of sonority in constraining the word identification errors of normal listeners. The data from 9 subjects from DePaolis's study were used to examine the phonological relationships, defined by the Sonority Sequencing Principle (Jespersen, 1904), between response errors and stimulus targets - a methodology previously employed in the analysis of target-related neologisms (Christman, 1992b, 1994). The present study found that, although sonority may constrain onset-driven word-search processes, sonority and lexical phonostatistics may constrain coda-driven word-search processes. These findings are consistent with those obtained from the productive errors of aphasic subjects (Christman, 1994). Taken together, the results of these studies support a role for sonority in phonologically based aspects of word identification and word production.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1996

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