Behavioural evidence for segments as subordinate units in Chinese spoken word production : The form-preparation paradigm revisited

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0225718
Journal / PublicationPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Online published27 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


It is widely acknowledged that phonemic segments are primary phonological units, processed serially, in spoken word production of Germanic languages. However, evidence for a behavioural effect of single-segment overlap on Chinese spoken word production is lacking. The current study adopted the form-preparation paradigm to investigate the effects of segment predictability and segment repetition separately, which were mixed in previous studies. Native Mandarin Chinese speakers named pictures in the following conditions: predictable, unpredictable, and no segment repetition. Different positions in words (i.e., the onset and the rhyme) were examined at the same time. Results revealed a facilitation effect of onset predictability masked by an inhibition tendency of onset repetition, indicating Chinese speakers’ ability to prepare the predictable onset. In contrast, rhyme predictability showed a non-significant effect. This pattern of results did not change no matter whether the conditions of unpredictable onset repetition and unpredictable rhyme repetition were mixed in the same context (Experiment 1) or extracted from different blocked contexts (Experiment 2). The finding provides essential support to the claim that phonemic segments are functionally engaged in Chinese spoken word production, and thus adds original evidence to the universal aspect of spoken word production.

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