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Laboratory Phonology

Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology

Ed. by Cole, Jennifer

IMPACT FACTOR 2015: 0.667
Rank 85 out of 179 in category Linguistics in the 2015 Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Report/Social Sciences Edition

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Metalinguistic judgments of phonotactics by monolinguals and bilinguals

Stefan A. Frisch / María R. Brea-Spahn
Published Online: 2010-11-04 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/labphon.2010.018


This paper demonstrates that a speaker's judgments of well-formedness for novel forms is based directly on their lexical knowledge by showing individual differences in performance in metalinguistic processing of novel words by 68 monolingual English speakers and 30 Spanish-English bilinguals. Monolingual participants were given a well-formedness judgment task and vocabulary assessment in English. Bilingual participants participated in well-formedness judgment tasks and vocabulary assessments in both English and Spanish. An influence of onset-rime phonotactic probability on well-formedness judgments was demonstrated, replicating and extending previous work to a bilingual population. For the bilinguals, there was no evidence of interference between the two languages in the well-formedness task. Individual differences in well-formedness judgments were examined by looking at relations between well-formedness judgments and vocabulary knowledge. Evidence supporting a connection between lexical knowledge and well-formedness task performance was found in the English data for both monolingual and bilingual participants, but this finding was not replicated in the Spanish data. Participants with a larger vocabulary in English were more accepting of low probability nonwords in English. It appears that those with greater vocabulary knowledge are more likely to have experienced improbable phonological constituents, and may also have a lower threshold for “unacceptable” nonwords, if their threshold is based on a likelihood estimate from their individual lexicon. The lack of a lexical effect for Spanish may reflect the lack of a comparable vocabulary test for Spanish. Overall, it appears that performance on well-formedness judgment tasks for nonwords is shown to be related to emergent generalizations based on the individual's linguistic experience with a language, as reflected in their lexical knowledge.

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Published Online: 2010-11-04

Published in Print: 2010-10-01

Citation Information: Laboratory Phonology, Volume 1, Issue 2, Pages 345–360, ISSN (Online) 1868-6354, ISSN (Print) 1868-6346, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/labphon.2010.018.

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