Eight questions about spoken word recognition

James M. McQueen

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780198568971
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
 Eight questions about spoken word recognition

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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Since word recognition is at the heart of the language-comprehension process, it has also always been a central topic in psycholinguistics. This article reviews current evidence on spoken word recognition, focusing on what is assumed to be the key aspect of the process: the way in which the listener derives from a spoken utterance a satisfactory lexical parse. The assumption is that this process entails abstraction, that is, a type of decoding in which the specific acoustic realisation of any given utterance is mapped onto store knowledge about the phonological form of individual words. To begin, what information in the speech signal is used in word recognition? Where are the words in the continuous speech stream? Which words did the speaker intend? When are the phonological forms of words recognised: How are words recognised? Whither spoken word recognition? The review of uptake of fine-grained segmental and suprasegmental information made clear that the speech signal is not just a sequence of phonemes.

Keywords: psycholinguistics; spoken word recognition; utterance; lexical parse; abstraction; words; phonological forms; speech signal; phonemes

Article.  13591 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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