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

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

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Two experiments were conducted to investigate the time course of syllabic and sub-syllabic encoding 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 in Experiment 1 were consonant-vowel(CV)- structured mono-syllabic words or di-syllabic words beginning with a CV syllable. The targets and distractors were either phonologically related or unrelated. The phonologically related distractor was either a CV or a CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) syllable that overlapped with the target two identical word-initial phonemes. The two types of phonologically related distractors had the same degree of segmental overlap with their target only that the CV- structured distractor also shared with the target the same atonal syllable (i.e., Full Syllable Overlap) but not for the CVC-structured distractor (i.e., Segmental Overlap Only). Relative to the unrelated control, Full Syllable Overlap distractors facilitated naming in all stimuli onset asynchronies (SOAs) (-175, 0, or +175 ms) whereas Segmental Overlap Only distractors exhibited facilitation only at 0-ms and +175-ms SOAs. Experiment 2 adopted a similar design, however, the target syllables were CVC-structured. The phonological distractor was either a CVC or CV syllable that shared two word-initial phonemes with the target. Comparable facilitation effects were observed in all SOAs irrespective of the syllabic-structure of the distractor. 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 ICPEAL 17 - CLDC 9.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


Wong, A. W.-K., Wang, J., & Chen, H.-C. (2018, October). Syllable retrieval precedes sub-syllabic encoding in Cantonese spoken word production. Paper presented at The 17th International Conference on the Processing of East Asian Languages and the 9th Conference on Language, Discourse, and Cognition (ICPEAL 17 – CLDC 9), National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.


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