Studying the dynamics of lexical access using disfluencies

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


The 7th Workshop on Disfluency in Spontaneous Speech (DiSS 2015), Edinburgh, Scotland (2015)


DiSS, lexical access, lexicalization, repetition, semantic competition, sentence planning


Faced with planning problems related to lexical access, speakers take advantage of a major function of disfluencies: buying time. It is reasonable, then, to expect that the structure of disfluencies sheds light on the mechanisms underlying lexical access. Using data from the Switchboard Corpus, we investigated the effect of semantic competition during lexical access on repetition disfluencies. We hypothesized that the more time the speaker needs to access the following unit, the longer the repetition. We examined the repetitions preceding verbs and nouns and tested predictors influencing the accessibility of these items. Results suggest that speed of lexical access negatively correlates with the length of repetition and that the main determinants of lexical access speed differ for verbs and nouns. Longer disfluencies before verbs appear to be due to significant paradigmatic competition from semantically similar verbs. For nouns, they occur when the noun is relatively unpredictable given the preceding context.


University of Edinburgh; August 8-9, 2015