Syllable retrieval precedes sub-syllabic encoding in Cantonese spoken word production

Wing-Kuen Andus WONG, Jie WANG, Siu-San WONG, Hsuan-Chih CHEN

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Two experiments were conducted to investigate the time course of syllabic and sub-syllabic processing in Cantonese spoken word production by using the picture-word interference task. Cantonese-speaking participants were asked to name individually presented pictures aloud and ignore an auditory word distractor. The targets and distractors were either phonologically related (i.e., sharing two identical word-initial phonemes) or unrelated. In Experiment 1, the target syllables were all consonant-vowel (CV)-structured. The phonological distractor was either a CV syllable (i.e., Full Syllable Overlap) or a CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) syllable (i.e., Sub-syllable Overlap). Relative to the unrelated control, Full Syllable Overlap distractors facilitated naming in all stimuli onset asynchronies (SOAs) (-175, 0, or +175 ms) whereas Sub-syllable Overlap distractors exhibited facilitation only at 0-ms and +175-ms SOAs. Experiment 2 adopted a similar design to examine the possible influence of syllabic structure similarity on the results of Experiment 1. The target syllables were all CVC-structured. The phonological distractor was either a CVC (i.e., Syllable-structure Consistent) or CV (i.e., Syllable-structure Inconsistent) syllable. Comparable priming was observed between the two distractor conditions across the three SOAs. These results indicated that an earlier priming effect was observed with full syllable overlap than sub-syllabic overlap when the degree of segmental overlap was held constant (Experiment 1). The earlier syllable priming observed in Experiment 1 could not be attributed to the effect of syllabic-structure (Experiment 2), thereby suggesting that the syllable unit is important in Cantonese and is retrieved earlier than sub-syllabic components during phonological encoding. Copyright © 2018 Wong et al.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0207617
JournalPLoS One
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


Wong, A. W.-K., Wang, J., Wong, S.-S., & Chen, H.-C. (2018). Syllable retrieval precedes sub-syllabic encoding in Cantonese spoken word production. PLoS One, 13(11). Retrieved from


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