15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

The Syllable as a Basic Processing Unit

Leonor Scliar-Cabral (1), Lucia Mosmann Trindade (2)

(1) Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil
(2) E.T. da Marinha, Brazil

32 Brazilian children, aged between 11;4 and 13;2, mean age 12;2 were tested to create new words in an experimental task. The material consisted of 72 drawn coloured pictures, divided into three sets according to semantic features. Showing one card at one time, the experimenter named it and the child had to repeat it. Then the child was asked to label the third picture, inventing a new word. 1529 utterances were analysed statistically and qualitatively. Only two types of word formation process showed a significant effect, namely syllabic derivation and syllabic synthesis (697 and 627 answers respectively). Although the two processes are not specifically mentioned in the Brazilian linguistic literature of word formation, since they do not fit into affixation or compounds formation, the authors conclude that the syllable is a basic processing unit even in word formation.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Scliar-Cabral, Leonor / Mosmann Trindade, Lucia (2003): "The syllable as a basic processing unit", In ICPhS-15, 1963-1966.