Lexical neighbors: Friends or enemies in speech production?

Wednesday, 2017, May 10 - 12:00
Northwestern University

Abstract

 A large body of work has examined how lexical neighbors -- non-target words overlapping in form with the target both within and across languages -- influence language processing. For example, English 'cape' has a within-language neighbor 'gape' and cross-language neighbor 'capa.' In speech production, within- and across-language neighbors both attract and repel articulation of the target form. When response preparation is difficult or disrupted, non-target representations attract target articulations, resulting in productions that reduce the contrast between the target and co-activated neighbors. When response preparation is facilitated, neighbors repel the target, resulting in enhancement of contrasts between targets and neighbors. Parallel effects have been observed in non-communicative motor movements (saccadic eye movements and reaching), suggesting that attraction and repulsion reflect general principles of motor planning. I will discuss a dynamical framework for lexical access that can account for this diverse array of effects.