A widely-cited model of spoken word production based on Indo-European languages postulates a stage of phonological encoding during which the phonemic contents of a word together with its metrical frame is retrieved first, followed by the left-to-right serial association of the phonemes to the corresponding slots in the frame. The result of this process is a syllabified phonological word. In this process, phonemes are the fundamental planning units, while syllables are constructed online. Evidence for this model and its assumptions comes from the form preparation task and the masked priming with word or picture naming task. The critical evidence is a word-onset phoneme effect and the effect increases with additional phonemes being shared or repeated. However, studies on Mandarin Chinese using the same tasks yielded different results and suggest that the syllable, not the phoneme, is the fundamental planning unit. The critical evidence in this case is a consistent syllable (less the tone) effect with a consistent lack of an onset phoneme effect. In recent years, a number of studies reported new findings showing a subsyllabic phoneme (e.g., CV- or -VC of a CVC syllable) effect or even an onset phoneme effect. To resolve the controversy, the present research project re-examined the role of the phoneme in Mandarin Chinese word production by conducting two experiments that employed the reading version of the form preparation task and examining more extensively the word-onset effect using 12 consonants in the same experiment (as opposed to 4 commonly used in previous studies). The target words used in Experiment 1 were 12 x 12 monosyllabic words made from 12 different onset consonants and 12 words for each onset consonant. The target words formed 12 homogeneous sets and 12 heterogeneous sets. The target words used in Experiment 2 consisted of three 4 x 4 monosyllabic word matrices extracted from the diagonal line of the 12 x 12 monosyllabic word matrix. This particular arrangement of the materials allowed the experiment to be more fairly compared with the experiments in previous studies, which typically employed a 4 x 4 material design. Both experiments observed a significant onset preparation effect and the sizes of the effects were comparable. The effects did not vary with repetitions of the target words in either experiment. The results contrast distinctly with those of previous studies, which have failed to observe any onset preparation effect. The discrepancy is attributed to different proximate units engaged in the associative naming task and the direct word naming task.
|Effective start/end date||2017/08/01 → 2018/07/31|
- Mandarin Chinese
- word production
- phonological encoding
- proximate unit
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