Stefan Th. Gries, Dagmar Divjak
Frequency Effects in Language Learning and Processing
The connection between frequency of form use and form reduction in language has been widely studied. After controlling for multiple contextual factors associated with reduction, word frequency, which reflects a speaker's cumulative experience with a word, has been reported to predict several types of pronunciation reduction. However, word frequency effects are not found consistently. Some studies have alternatively reported effects on reduction of the cumulative exposure of words to specific reducing environments or measures of contextual predictability. The current study examines cumulative and contextual effects of reducing environments, as well as non-contextual frequency measures, on the reduction of word-initial /s/ in a corpus of spoken New Mexican Spanish. The results show effects of non-cumulative factors on reduction, argued to occur on-line during articulation. There are also effects of the cumulative exposure of words to specific reducing environments and of contextual predictability, but not of the cumulative experience with a word overall (word frequency). The results suggest representational change in the lexicon through repeated exposure of words to reducing environments and call into question proposals that frequency of use per se causes reduction.
Raymond, William D & Brown, Esther L. 2012. Are effects of word frequency effects of context of use? An analysis of initial fricative reduction in Spanish. In Stefan Th. Gries & Dagmar Divjak (Eds.), Frequency Effects in Language Learning and Processing (pp. 35-52). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.