A Perceptual Correlate of the Labial-Coronal Effect

Sato, Marc; Vallée, Nathalie; Schwartz, Jean-Luc; Rousset, Isabelle
December 2007
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Dec2007, Vol. 50 Issue 6, p1466
Academic Journal
Purpose: Statistical studies conducted in various languages on both infants and adults have revealed an intersyllabic preference for initiating words with a labial consonant--vowel--coronal consonant sequence. Speech motor constraints have been proposed to explain this so-called labial-coronal effect. This study was designed to test for a possible perceptual correlate of the labial-coronal effect in French adults. Method: The authors examined the perceptual stabilities of repeatedly presented disyllabic sequences, involving either a labial-vowel-coronal-vowel (LC) or a coronalvowel--labial--vowel (CL) phonological structure. With this aim, they exploited the verbal transformation effect, which refers to the perceptual changes experienced while listening to a speech form cycled in rapid and continuous repetition. Two experiments were carried out, involving either voiced or unvoiced plosive consonants. Results: In both experiments, a greater stability and attractiveness was observed for LC stimuli, which suggests that in a (...)LCLC(...) flow, the listener could more naturally provide a segmentation into LC chunks. Conclusion: This study demonstrates that the labial-coronal effect also occurs in the course of online speech processing. This result is interpreted in relation with theories assuming a link between perception and action in the human speech processing system.


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