Holiday or vacation? The processing of variation in vocabulary across dialects

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Martin, Clara D. ; Garcia, Xavier ; Potter, Douglas ; Melinger, Alissa ; Costa, ALbert (2016)
  • Publisher: Language, Cognition and Neuroscience
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1080/23273798.2015.1100750
  • Subject: Lexical integration | Language perception | Event-related potentials | Dialect comprehension | Sociolinguistics

Published online: 20 Oct 2015 Native speakers with different linguistic backgrounds differ in their usage of language, and particularly in their vocabulary. For instance, British natives would use the word "holiday" when American natives would prefer the word "vacation". This study investigates how cross-dialectal lexical variation impacts lexical processing. Electrophysiological responses were recorded, while British natives listened to British or American speech in which lexical frequency dominance across dialects was manipulated (British versus American vocabulary). Words inconsistent with the dialect of the speaker (British words uttered by American speakers and vice versa) elicited larger negative electrophysiological deflections than consistent words, 700 ms after stimulus onset. Thus, processing of British words was easier when listening to British speakers and processing of American words was easier when listening to American speakers. These results show that listeners integrate their knowledge about cross-dialectal lexical variations in vocabulary as speech unfolds, as it was previously shown for social lexical variations. This research was funded by grants from the Spanish Government (PSI2011-23033, PSI2014-54500, and Consolider Ingenio 2010 CSD2007-00048), from the Catalan Government (SGR 2009-1521) and from the European Research Council under the European Community’s Seventh Framework (FP7/2007– 2013 Cooperation grant agreement 613465-AThEME). CM was supported by the Basque Foundation for Science (IKERBASQUE) and the BCBL institution.
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