Sophia Wulfert

Frequency effects in the processing of German consonant clusters

ErstbetreuerProf. Dr. Peter Auer
ZweitbetreuerJunProf. Dr. Adriana Hanulikova

It is well known that frequency of use of certain linguistic units (phonemes, syllables, words,…) guides their processing. But despite long and extensive research, the different effects frequency might have on each level still have not been fully disentangled. Moreover, even apparent “anti-frequency effects” (high frequency elements showing a greater error rate) have occasionally been found and attributed to purely phonological mechanisms (Stemberger 1991).
My PhD project explores the role frequencies of German consonant clusters play in language perception and production. To this aim, I will examine whether high frequency clusters such as /kl/ are perceived and produced faster and with greater accuracy than low frequency clusters such as /ks/. Is there a frequency effect beyond that of single phonemes? One of the main aims is to find out if frequency of use is a better predictor of performance than phonological well-formedness, and how the two interact. The investigation will be based on analyses of speech errors (slips of the tongue as well as slips of the ear) from both naturally occurring speech and experimental elicitations. Here, special attention will be paid to similarities and differences between effects in perception and production and their potential implications for the respective models of language processing.

ForschungsrichtungLanguage processing, phonology
Schlüsselbegriffeconsonant cluster, speech perception, speech production, speech error