The notion of perceptual salience is frequently invoked as an explanatory factor in discussions of various linguistic phenomena, but the way salience is defined varies between studies. This paper provides a critical evaluation of two approaches to operationalizing perceptual salience that have been applied to studies of phonetic accommodation: the criteria-list approach and the experimental approach. The purpose is to provide a starting point for researchers interested in exploring the role of perceptual salience in linguistic patterns, such as phonetic accommodation. In addition, the paper aims to consider the nature of the information captured by the different approaches, to explore how these approaches might be best used, and to examine how they reflect changes in theorizing on linguistic variables more generally.

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Keywords Laboratory phonology, Perceptual salience, Phonetic accommodation, Phonetics, Phonology, Sociolinguistics
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Journal Ampersand
MacLeod, B. (2015). A critical evaluation of two approaches to defining perceptual salience. Ampersand, 2, 83–92. doi:10.1016/j.amper.2015.07.001