Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Catherine Rogers, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Judith Bryant, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cynthia Cimino, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Stefan Frisch, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Douglas Nelson, Ph.D.


phonological, neighborhood, proficiency, noise, speech, perception


In spoken word recognition, high-frequency words with few neighbors and less frequently occurring minimal pair neighbors (lexically easy words) are recognized more accurately than low-frequency words with many and more frequently occurring neighbors (lexically hard words). Bradlow and Pisoni (1999) found a larger easy hard word effect for non-native than native speakers of English. The present study extends this work by specifically comparing word recognition by non-native listeners with either earlier or later ages of immersion in an English-speaking environment to that of native English speakers. Listeners heard six lists of 24 words, each composed of 12 lexically easy and 12 lexically hard words in an open-set word identification task. Word lists were presented in quiet and in moderate noise. A substantially larger easy-hard word effect was obtained only for the later learners, but a measure of oral vocabulary size was significantly correlated with performance for the non-native listener groups only. Thus, the increased easy-hard word effect for non-native listeners appears to be explained as an effect of phonetic proficiency and/or vocabulary size on the structure of the lexical neighborhoods.