Quantifying contextual effects in second language processing of phonolexically ambiguous and unambiguous words
Second language (L2) speakers often experience difficulty discriminating speech sounds of the nonnative language, which can result in phonolexical ambiguity. We report two experiments that examine how L2 Russian speakers may utilize contextual constraints for phonolexical ambiguity resolution during speech comprehension. L2 ambiguous words constitute minimal pairs with palatalized and unpalatalized consonants in the Russian language, where the phonological feature of palatalization marks semantic, morphological, or syntactic distinctions between words. L2 performance is compared to that of a control group of Russian native speakers. The results demonstrate that L2 listeners rely on contextual information for meaning disambiguation during sentence comprehension, but that the relative reliance on different types of context is task specific.