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ERIC Number: EJ1099358
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-May
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
The Primacy of Abstract Syllables in Chinese Word Production
Chen, Jenn-Yeu; O'Séaghdha, Pádraig G.; Chen, Train-Min
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v42 n5 p825-836 May 2016
Convergent evidence suggests that syllables play a primary and distinctive role in the phonological phase of Mandarin Chinese word production. Specifically, syllables are selected before other phonological components and guide subsyllabic encoding. The proximity of phonological syllables to word representations in Chinese languages ensures that they are also activated automatically by word perception. Therefore, in contrast to Indo-European languages, syllables but not necessarily subsyllabic components such as initial consonants can be perceptually primed in production. We tested this prediction in 2 masked-priming experiments. To isolate relevant phonological activation originating in primes, we used single character masked primes whose corresponding tones and lexical meanings always differed from those of the targets' first morphemes. Related primes potentially activated the atonal first syllables or the first consonants of target words. To strongly engage production-specific processes, we used pictures as prompts for disyllabic target words. Facilitation relative to unrelated controls was observed only in the syllable sharing condition. If anything, sharing of initial consonants had a negative valence, perhaps indicative of competition among similar coactivated words or syllables. These findings corroborate the view that abstract syllables are the first selected, "proximate" phonological units in Chinese word production, and that phonemic segments play a subordinate role.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (DHHS)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Taiwan
Grant or Contract Numbers: R01DC006948