Spoken word recognition of Chinese homophones: The role of context and tone neighbors

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A gating experiment with 36 native Cantonese speakers was conducted to examine the role of context effects and density information in the recognition of Chinese homophones during speech, following up on Li and Yip (1996, 1998), Yip and Li (1997), and Yip (1999). In the experiment, listeners were presented with successively gated portions of a spoken homophone embedded in a sentence context or in isolation, and they identified the homophone on the basis of its increasing amount of acoustic-phonetic information. Results show that context not only aids the recognition process but also has an early effect on the disambiguation of various homophone meanings, shortly after the acoustic onset of the word. However, competition effects from the tone neighbors of the ambiguous word seem to be too weak to reduce its relevant candidates during lexical access. Consistent with our previous studies, these findings in general support the context-dependency hypothesis, which suggest that the recognition of homophonic meanings depends on the interactive processing among both top-down and bottom-up information during lexical access. Copyright © 2000 by the Psychologia Society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-143
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2000




Yip, M. C. W. (2000). Spoken word recognition of Chinese homophones: The role of context and tone neighbors. Psychologia, 43(2), 135-143.


  • Chinese homophones
  • Context effects
  • Tone neighbors
  • Interactive activation models
  • Multiple constraints