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The dynamic interaction between lexical and contextual frequency: A case study of (ING)

  • Jon Forrest (a1)

To identify how contextual usage frequency and lexical frequency interact when controlling for traditional linguistic constraints, this study analyzes the effect of frequency on (ING), taking into account a word's frequent context of occurrence. The data consist of 13,167 tokens of (ING) from interviews with 132 speakers conducted in Raleigh, North Carolina. Results from mixed-effect logistic regression show a strong effect of frequency on the realization of (ING), and this effect interacts with phonological context of occurrence. Frequent occurrence in environments that favor -in amplify the effect of lexical frequency; conversely, frequent occurrence in environments that favor –ing dampen the effect of overall frequency. Frequency also interacts with year of birth, showing an entrenchment of high-frequency words, lagging behind the community change toward the –ing variant in apparent time. Overall, these findings support the usage-based position of frequency effects as the result of a dynamic interplay between context of use and cognitive systems.

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