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Sonority as a constraint on word identification processes

  • Sarah S. Christman (a1) and Rory A. Depaolis (a2)


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.


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Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73190


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Sonority as a constraint on word identification processes

  • Sarah S. Christman (a1) and Rory A. Depaolis (a2)


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