• Frequency and acoustic reduction in English -ment derivatives

      Sung, Jae-Hyun; University of Arizona (University of Arizona Linguistics Circle, 2013)
      This study investigates the influence of frequency on the production of bimorphemic words, and considers which frequency measure is most apt to explain the differences. Previous studies have reported that frequent words are produced faster and more casually than infrequent ones, and that medial segments will have shorter durations. The present study examines the relation between frequency and the duration of medial segments in English derived words by conducting a production experiment with 6 native speakers of American English using 74 English '-ment' derivatives, and pits word frequency, base frequency, and relative frequency (wordfreq/basefreq) against one another as predictors. The results show that models incorporating any of the three frequency measures strongly predict medial segment duration (R-squared = 0.56, with the differences in R-squared between them on the order of 1%. Among the three frequency measures, whole word frequency explained the most variance, across all consonant types. The duration of segments in highly frequent words tends to be shorter than that in relatively infrequent words. Overall, this study confirms that speakers are sensitive to the extralinguistic information associated with the words such as frequency, and in this case, traditional frequency measures (whole word and base frequencies) are better predictors than relative frequency.