Noble International Journal of Social Sciences Research

Online ISSN: 2519-9722 | Print ISSN: 2522-6789


    Volume 5 Number 2 February 2020


Pages: 12-21
Authors: Skott E. Jones
The degree to which words are phonologically similar to one another has been termed in the literature as neighbourhood density. It has traditionally been operationalized as a single phonemic difference between words, and subsequently used as an experimental variable in a variety of tasks across a variety of languages. However, few studies to date have assessed the validity of such a metric in a language other than English. In the current study, 23 typical Spanish-speaking adults were presented with 100 CVCV nonwords, and asked to name a similar-sounding Spanish real word after each stimulus. Findings revealed that participants modified an average of two segments per word, in contrast to previous work conducted in English. Participants largely relied on substitutions of final segments, while additions and deletions were less frequently used; a similar average number of changes was made to consonants and vowels. Taken together, the results suggest that using a single-segmental metric to index phonological similarity may not adequately capture unique crosslinguistic differences, especially when considering other influential domains of language such as semantics and morphology.

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