Generalization of Phonetic Detail: Cross-Segmental, Within-Category Priming of VOT

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The current study examined whether fine-grained phonetic detail (voice onset time (VOT)) of one segment (/p/ or /k/) generalizes to a different segment (/t/) within the same natural class. Two primes were constructed to exploit the natural variation of VOT: a velar stop followed by a high vowel (keen) resulting in a naturally long VOT and a labial stop followed by a low vowel (pan) resulting in a naturally shorter VOT. Two experiments were conducted, one in which the speakers produced both the prime and the target, and a second in which the speakers heard the primes and then produced the targets. In Experiment 1, VOTs for initial /t/ were shorter following pan than following keen. In Experiment 2 where participants heard the primes, priming was found only when the primes had unexpected relative VOT values (short for keen and long for pan). These results provide evidence for cross-segmental generalization of phonetic detail and also suggest that natural, within-category variability is encoded during language processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-562
Number of pages14
JournalLanguage and Speech
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Speech production
  • gradience
  • speech perception
  • voice onset time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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