A purple giraffe is faster than a purple elephant: Inconsistent phonology affects determiner selection in English
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SourceCognition, 114, 1, (2010), pp. 123-128
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectDI-BCB_DCC_Theme 1: Language and Communication; Psycholinguistics
The form of a determiner is dependent on different contextual factors: in some languages grammatical number and grammatical gender determine the choice of a determiner variant. In other languages, the phonological onset of the element immediately following the determiner affects selection, too. Previous work has shown that the activation of opposing determiner forms by a noun’s grammatical properties leads to slower naming latencies in a picture naming task, as does the activation of opposing forms by the interaction between a noun’s gender and the phonological context. The present paper addresses the question of whether phonological context alone is sufficient to evoke competition between determiner forms. Participants produced English phrases in which a noun phrase’s phonology required a determiner that was the same as or differed from the determiner required by the noun itself (e.g., a purple giraffe; an orange giraffe). Naming latencies were slower when the phrase-initial determiner differed from the determiner required by the noun in isolation than when the phrase-initial determiner matched the isolated-noun determiner. This was true both for definite and indefinite determiners. The data show that during the production of a determiner–noun phrase, nouns automatically activate the phonological forms of their determiners, which can compete with the phonological forms that are generated by an assimilation rule.
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