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Working paper

Phonological neighbourhood density in Russian word production: Evidence from children and adults

Linguistics / LNG. WP BRP 64/LNG/2018. Working papers by the Basic Research Program, 2018
Phonological neighbourhood density (PND) refers to the number of words which can be formed from a given word by substituting, adding or deleting one phoneme. Thus, word with many similar sounding neighbours has a dense neighbourhood, whereas a word with few neighbours or without neighbors has a sparse neighbourhood. Previous studies have shown that dense and sparse neighbourhoods influence word production in different ways. Research in English-speaking adults demonstrated that words with dense neighbourhood are produced faster than words with sparse neighbourhood, facilitating lexical access. At the same time, sparse neighbourhood inhibits word production. Interestingly, studies in Spanish adults showed the reverse effect: dense neighbourhood inhibits word production whereas sparse neighbourhood facilitates it. This cross-linguistic difference in the PND pattern was explained in terms of morphological complexity of Spanish in comparison to English. Although there are numerous studies of the PND effect in adults, some questions remain unknown. For example, how does PND influence word production in morphologically more complex language than Spanish? Or, how does the PND pattern develop in children? The present paper aims to explore these questions.