Chapter published in:Recent Advances in the Study of Spanish Sociophonetic Perception
Edited by Whitney Chappell
[Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics 21] 2019
► pp. 266–285
Spoken word recognition and shesheo in Northwestern Mexico
A preliminary investigation into the effects of sociophonetic variability on auditory lexical access
This study investigates the auditory lexical processing of the two main variants of “ch” (as in charco ‘puddle’) used in the Spanish spoken in northwestern Mexico. A feature of this dialect is the variable implementation of “ch” either as an affricate, [tʃ], or a fricative, [ʃ]. We designed an auditory lexical decision task with auditory priming to explore the effects (if any) of this variability on the recognition of words by members of this community. Target words were presented with either variant as their word-initial consonant (e.g., [tʃ]arco ~ [ʃ]arco), and they were preceded by auditory primes with a matching variant ([tʃ]arco-[tʃ]arco, [ʃ]arco-[ʃ]arco), a mismatching variant ([tʃ]arco-[ʃ]arco, [ʃ]arco-[tʃ]arco), or an unrelated prime. The results show that members of this community are equally likely to accept Spanish word forms produced with either variant. Furthermore, both variants primed listeners equally effectively in their recognition of spoken words, suggesting that both activate the same entry in their mental lexicon (as opposed to parallel representations). Finally, recognition was found to be faster when the word-initial phonetic variant was [tʃ]; this suggests a privilege of [tʃ] over [ʃ] at some level of representation. The results support the claim that, in cases of sociophonetic variability, members of the speech community may include more than one phonetic variant in their mental representation of words, but that, even in such cases, one of the variants may take processing precedence over the other. These results, in turn, suggest it is possible that the nature of the mental representations of an individual are particularly affected by the dialect spoken in their speech community.
Published online: 28 November 2019
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