Wait for it! Stronger influence of context on categorical perception in Danish than Norwegian

AbstractSpeech input is often noisy and ambiguous. Yet listeners usually do not have difficulties understanding it. A key hypothesis is that in speech processing acoustic-phonetic bottom-up processing is complemented by top-down contextual information. This context effect is larger when the ambiguous word is only separated from a disambiguating word by a few syllables compared to many syllables, suggesting that there is a limited time window for processing acoustic-phonetic information with the help of context. Here, we argue that the relative weight of bottom-up and top-down processes may be different for languages that have different phonological properties. We report an experiment comparing two closely related languages, Danish and Norwegian. We show that Danish speakers do indeed rely on context more than Norwegian speakers do. These results highlight the importance of investigating cross-linguistic differences in speech processing, suggesting that speakers of different languages may develop different language processing strategies.


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