acquired similarity

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A tendency for items that were previously perceived as dissimilar to be perceived as the same as a result of learning to use them for the same purpose or to classify them in the same category or with the same label. For example, in Japanese, /r/ and /l/ are allophones that do not give distinct meanings to different words, and as a result Japanese speakers often lack the ability to distinguish between them, but this causes problems for native Japanese speakers of English, because in English /r/ and /l/ distinguish minimal pairs such as right and light and are therefore different phonemes. Compare acquired distinctiveness.

Subjects: Psychology.

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