4. Prevoicing in Dutch initial plosives: Production, perception, and word recognition

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Prevoicing is the presence of vocal fold vibration during the closure of initial voiced plosives (negative VOT). The presence or absence of prevoicing is generally used to describe the voicing distinction in Dutch initial plosives. However, a phonetic study showed that prevoicing is frequently absent in Dutch. This article discusses the role of prevoicing in the production and perception of Dutch plosives. Furthermore, two cross-modal priming experiments are presented that examined the effect of prevoicing variation on word recognition. Both experiments showed no difference between primes with 12, 6 or 0 periods of prevoicing, even though a third experiment indicated that listeners could discriminate these words. These results are discussed in light of another priming experiment that did show an effect of the absence of prevoicing, but only when primes had a voiceless word competitor. Phonetic detail appears to influence lexical access only when it helps to distinguish between lexical candidates.


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