14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

Is the Phonological Encoding of English Words Syllabically Structured?

Niels O. Schiller

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Four experiments are reported which investigate the syllable priming effect in English. In Experiment 1, pictures had to be named. Visually masked letter primes preceded the targets and either matched the first syllable of the target picture's name or were one segment shorter or longer than the target's first syllable. Additionally, there was a neutral control prime. Results showed that targets were named fastest when the primes had the largest segmental overlap with the target independent of syllable structure. Experiment 2 replicated this result with word targets, and in Experiment 3 target words were grouped into pairs again yielding the same result. Experiment 4 is a replication of Experiment 2 with a longer prime exposure duration. These results contradict the syllable priming hypothesis but support the alternative segmental overlap hypothesis.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Schiller, Niels O. (1999): "Is the phonological encoding of English words syllabically structured?", In ICPhS-14, 739-742.