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Syllabification of Intervocalic Consonants

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JOURNAL
OF MEMORY
AND
LANGUAGE
27, 87-104 (1988)
Syllabification
of Intervocalic
Consonants
REBECCA TREIMAN AND CATALINA DANIS
Wayne State University
Two tasks were used to study the syllabification of intervocalic consonants like the /V’s of
melon and collide. In an oral task, subjects reversed the syllables in words; in a written
task, they selected between alternative syllabifications. Even in the oral task, subjects’
responses were influenced by whether their spellings of the words contained a single letter
(r) or a double letter (10.Responses
in the two tasks were also affected by the stress pattern
of the word, the phonetic category of the intervocalic consonant, and the nature of the
preceding vowel. The results are discussed in relation to theories of syllabification.
o 1988
Academic
Press, Inc.
Many investigators (e.g., Spoehr, 1981;
Segui, 1984) have proposed that the syllable plays a role in the processing of
spoken and written language. However,
studies of the syllable’s role in language
processing have been hindered by uncertainty about how words are divided into
syllables. With a word like demon, for instance, is the /m/ part of the first syllable,
part of the second syllable, or part of both
syllables? Different theories of syllabification offer different answers. In this paper,
we ask how adults syllabify spoken and
written words. We focus on intervocalic
consonants like the /ml of demon and the /r/
of erase, asking what factors affect their
syllabification.
Within linguistics, no one theory of syllabification is widely accepted. While competing theories disagree on many points,
there are three general areas of agreement.
The first assumption, made by all linguistic
theories of which we are aware, is that
every syllable contains a vowel or syllabic
consonant (as in the second syllable of
battle). Although this assumption produces
unambiguous syllabifications for words like
Joey, it does not indicate whether the intervocalic consonants of demon and erase belong to the first syllable or the second syllable. A second assumption, held by Anderson and Jones (1974), Hooper (1972),
Fulgram (1970), and Selkirk (1982), but not
always by Bailey (1978), Hoard (1971), or
Kahn (1976), is that if a consonant or sequence of consonants is illegal at the beginnings of words it is also illegal at the beginnings of syllables. The same holds for
word-final and syllable-final consonants.
For example, /I-$ is said to be illegal syllable-initially because it is illegal word-initially. Thus, the /rt/ offinger is assigned to
the first syllable rather than to the second.
Our experiments used only intervocalic
consonants that were legal both in wordinitial and in word-final positions, so this
assumption did not determine syllabifications. A final assumption concerns syllabification before stressed vowels. Many linguists (Bailey, 1978; Hoard, 1971; Hooper,
1972; Kahn, 1976; Pulgram, 1970; Selkirk,
1982) assume that as many consonants as
possible are placed at the beginning of a
stressed syllable. In other words, the onset
(initial consonant or consonant cluster) of
This research was supported by NICHD Grants
HD20276 and HD00769. We thank Peggy Ericson,
Cathy Beiser, and Andrea Zukowski for their contributions and Anne Cutler, Juan Segui, Mark Seidenberg, and Marcus lhft for comments on a draft of the
manuscript. Reprint requests should be addressed to
Dr. Rebecca Treiman, Department of Psychology,
Wayne State University, 71 W. Warren Ave., Detroit,
MI 48202.
87
0749-596X/88 $3.00
Copyright
All rights
8 1988 by Academic Press. Inc.
of reproduction
in any form reserved.
88
TREIMAN
the stressed syllable is maximized.’
By this
assumption, a VCV’ sequence (where V =
unstressed vowel, C = consonant that is
possible
syllable-initially,
and V’ =
stressed vowel) is syllabified as V-CV’. For
example, /r/ belongs to the second syllable
of erase. This third assumption does not
specify the place of/m/ in demon since the
second vowel of this word is unstressed.
Although most linguistic theories agree
that VCV’ sequences are syllabified
as
V-CV’, linguists disagree on the treatment
of V’CVs. According to Pulgram (1970),
the nature of the first vowel determines
syllabification
in this case. If the vowel is
one that can end a word-often
called a
“long” vowel-the
consonant is assigned
to the second syllable. If the first vowel is
“short”,
or illegal in word-final position,
the consonant is assigned to the first syllable. Thus, the /m/ of demon belongs to
the second syllable and the /m/ of lemon
belongs to the first. A similar view is apparent in the syllabifications
of spoken
words given by Webster’s New World Dictionary (1984).* Hoard (1971) has a different view. He states that all V’CVs are
syllabified as V’C-V. Thus, both demon
and lemon are broken after the /ml.
The theories of Kahn (1976) and Selkirk
(1982) differ from those described above in
that each proposes two levels or types of
syllabification.
To Kahn ( 1976), syllabification in slow speech differs from that in
normal and fast speech. In slow speech, the
onsets of all syllables are as long as possible given the phonological constraints of
’ This holds as long as there are no conflicting morphological boundaries. Theories disagree on the treatment of words like racetrack,
where phonological syllabification via the maximization of onsets before
stressed vowels yields a boundary between /e/ and Is/
and morphological syllabification yields a boundary
between Is1 and It/. We did not use words that presented such a conflict.
t The dictionary is not completely consistent, however. For example, the it/ of mofor is placed in the first
syllable.
AND DANIS
English. Thus, the /m/‘s of demote and
lemon both belong to the second syllable.
In normal rate and fast speech, the /m/ of
demote remains the initial consonant of the
second syllable. However, the /ml of lemon
attaches itself to the first syllable as well. It
becomes simultaneously
syllable-final
and
syllable-initial,
or ambisyllubic.
To Selkirk
(1982), the two levels of syllabification
are
the level of basic syllable composition-an
underlying or deep level-and
a surface or
phonetic level. At the level of basic syllable
composition,
the /ml’s of demote and
lemon are both syllable-initial,
as for Kahn.
At the surface level, the /m/ of demote remains syllable-initial
while the /m/ of lemon
resyllabifies to become syllable-final.
In addition
to the linguistic
theories,
which were designed to describe the syllabification of spoken words, several theories
of word recognition and reading include a
role for syllable units. One such theory is
that of the vocalic center group or VCG,
proposed by Hansen and Rodgers (1968)
and later taken up by Spoehr and Smith
(1973). According to Hansen and Rodgers,
a vowel-consonant-vowel
sequence is
first parsed after the vowel. Spellingsound rules are then applied in an attempt
to derive a phonological representation.
If
the obtained phonological
representation
matches a representation
in long-term
memory, the VCG boundary is after the
first vowel. If no match is obtained, the sequence is parsed after the consonant. According to Hansen and Rodgers, the initial
V-CV parse will be successful for words
like demon which have “long” vowels in
the first syllable. Such a parsing will not
yield a match for lemon since the spellingsound rules assign the pronunciation
/i/ to
the letter e. Lemon is therefore parsed into
the VCGs lem and on.
A second theory of word recognition that
includes a role for syllable-like units is that
of Taft (1979). Taft suggests that printed
words are accessed in terms of units called
BOSSes. A BOSS includes “as many con-
SYLLABIFICATION
OF INTERVOCALIC
CONSONANTS
89
sonants following the first vowel of the consonants. Stemberger showed that consonants in V’CV environments-consoword as orthotactic
factors will allow
nants classified by Kahn (1976) as ambisylwithout disrupting the morphological
struclabic-interacted
with both syllable-final
ture of that word” (Taft, 1979, p. 24). In
consonants
and
syllable-initial
consonants.
this view, Canada, canary, and canine all
He
interpreted
this
result
to
suggest
that
have the BOSS cm. The stress pattern of
consonants like the ltl of water are ambithe word and the nature of the first vowel
syllabic. (See Buckingham
(1980) for simhave no effect.
Finally, it has been proposed that syl- ilar evidence from aphasics’ errors.)
The psychological
theories of syllabic
lable units in written words can be defined
units in written words have produced more
orthographically
(Adams, 1981; Seidenempirical research. Taft (1979) compared
berg, 1987). Specifically, “syllable boundaries will be located at points where the as- BOSS units and VCG units, finding that
sociations
between adjacent letters are words divided into BOSS units yielded
weakest” (Adams, 1981, p. 215). In anvil,
faster response times in a lexical decision
for example, the bigram nv has a lower fre- task than words divided into VCGs. Howquency than the bigrams an, vi, or il. In ever, Lima and Pollatsek (1983) failed to
replicate this result. Prinzmetal,
Treiman,
Seidenberg’s
terms, there is a bigram
trough at the nv boundary. The syllable
and Rho (1986) and Seidenberg (1987) used
boundary corresponds to this trough.
feature integration errors to diagnose perThe linguistic theories of syllabification
ceptual groupings of letters. This task prohave not led to a great deal of behavioral
duced evidence for orthographically
deresearch. One exception is the study by fined units and against BOSSes.
Fallows (198 1). Fallows presented children
The linguistic work and the psychologaged 4-5 and 9-10 with spoken words.
ical work on syllabification
have been relaThe children were to double either the first
tively isolated from one another. We sought
or the second syllable of the words. For ex- to draw these lines of work closer together
ample, in the first task a child could say by considering both factors that linguists
over as o-over or as ov-over; in the second have identified
as important,
such as
task a child could say over-ver or over-er.
stress, and factors that psychologists have
A potentially
serious
problem
with
identified as important, such as bigram freFallows’ study is that some of the words
quencies. We used two tasks to study sylwere spelled with a single consonant (e.g.,
labification.
The first was a syllable reover) and some with a double consonant
versal task involving spoken words. After
(e.g., bunny). Fallows did not analyze the practicing
on words like grandfather,
two types of stimuli separately, nor did she which was reversed to form father grand,
assess children’s
knowledge
of the
subjects were asked to reverse words like
spellings. Even in an oral task, people’s re- lemon. The possible answers were onlem
sponses may be affected by how they spell
(where the critical phoneme, /m/, is placed
the words (Ehri 8z Wilce, 1986; Jakimik,
in the first syllable), monk (/m/ placed in
Cole, & Rudnicky,
1985; Seidenberg & the second syllable), or monlem (/m/ placed
Tanenhaus,
1979). A second behavioral
in both syllables). After performing
this
study (Stemberger,
1983a) examined
task, subjects were asked to spell the
speech errors. A common finding is that words. A second task, run with other subsyllable-initial
consonants tend to interact
jects, used written words. Subjects saw a
with other syllable-initial
consonants in word either with a slash before the letter or
speech errors, while syllable-final
consoletters
corresponding
to the critical
nants generally interact with syllable-final
phoneme (e.g., lelmon, colmma), or with a
90
TREIMANANDDANIS
slash after (lemlon, commla), and circled
their preferred syllabification.
EXPERIMENT
Method
Procedure
1
Stimuli
There were a total of 84 stimuli that
varied in stress (first syllable stressed or
second syllable stressed) and spelling (critical phoneme spelled with a single letter or
a double letter). As shown in Table 1, the
stimuli were designed in pairs like proper,
propel and comma, command. Within a
pair, the words differed in stress but were
similar in spelling. The spellings were the
same in the critical letter or letters, the preceding vowel, and (with two exceptions)
the following vowel. The letters preceding
and following these vowels were often
shared as well. The words in the four categories were closely equated for frequency
(Kucera and Francis, 1967), number of
letters in spelling, and number of syllables.
They ranged from two to five syllables in
length. Table 1 shows the mean frequencies
for the bigrams surrounding the critical
letter(s) for the stimuli in each category.
The figures from Mayzner and Tresselt
(1965) are total bigram frequencies; the
figures from Solso and Juel(198 1) are positional bigram frequencies for words of
various lengths.3 A complete list of stimuli
for this and subsequent experiments appears in the Appendix.
For the oral task, the stimuli were
spoken aloud by the experimenter. The
order of the stimuli was randomly chosen
for each subject. For the written task, each
stimulus was typed in two ways on a single
line-with a slash before the critical letter
or letters and with a slash after. For example, the subject saw pro/per and propler
and colmmand and commland and chose
the better syllabification in each case.
Oral task.
The experimenter said,
“We’re going to play a game with words.
I’ll show you how it goes by giving you
some examples. When I say grandfather
you szty father [pause] grand. When I say
catfood you say food [pause] cat.” The experimenter then asked the subject to give
the responses for snowman, jawbreaker,
jetliner, kidnap, and ungrateful.
The correct response, of course, was to produce
the second (and any following) syllables,
pause, and then produce the first syllable.
For these practice items, the first syllable
corresponded to a morpheme. The experimenter did not use the term “syllable.”
Any errors on practice items were corrected. The test items were then presented.
The experimenter did not comment on the
subject’s responses unless the subject
failed to divide a word of three or more syllables at the boundary between the first and
second syllables, saying for example tude
atti for attitude. If this occurred, the experimenter referred back to the practice item
ungrateful,
reminding the subject that the
correct answer was grateful un rather than
ful ungrate. The experimenter then asked
the subject for another answer. After performing the syllable reversal task, subjects
were asked to spell all the words.
Written task. Subjects were asked to
read each word aloud; the experimenter
corrected any mispronunciations. For each Subjects
word, subjects were asked how they would
syllabify it in print. They were to circle the
Twenty students from Indiana Univerbetter syllabification of the two choices
provided. After completing the task, sub3 Solso and Juel (1981) consider two- through ninejects were asked on what basis they had letter words only. Some of the stimuli for Experiment
syllabified the words and what rules of syl- 1 were longer; these are excluded from the reported
means.
labification they had been taught.
SYLLABIFICATION
OF INTERVOCALIC
91
CONSONANTS
TABLE
1
SAMPLE S~MULI
FOR EXPERIMENT
1 AND MEAN FREQUENCIES
FOR BIGRAMS SURROUNDING
CRITICAL
LE-ITER(S)
ACCORDING
TO MAYZNER
AND TFUXSSELT (1%5) (MT) AND SOLSO AND JUEL (1981) (SJ)
Bigram
Stress
Spelling
Example
1
I
proper
1
2
propel
2
1
comma
2
2
command
Note.
Critical
letter(s)
is italicized
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
and lowest
frequencies
Prior
bigram
VC
cc
cv
585
1762
585
1733
272
1973
272
1863
308*
771
308*
655
397
555
397
542
133*
383*
133*
433
383
642*
396
504*
304
614
308
391*
bigram
frequency
is marked
with
Subsequent
bigram
537
1431
412
789
445
1044
497
655
*.
ried out both across subjects and across
stimuli; only those effects that reached at
least the .05 level in both types of analyses
will be reported as significant. Post hoc
analyses were carried out using Scheffe
tests.
Table 2 shows the mean proportion of responses of each type for the four categories
of stimuli. Friedman analyses of variance
Results and Discussion
by ranks showed that the four types of responses differed in frequency for each
Responses in the oral task were scored stimulus category CJJ< .OOl). Multiple comas 1 responses if the critical phoneme was parisons were carried out on the rank sums
placed in the first syllable (as in er prop for as recommended by Hollander and Wolfe
proper;
and corn for command),
2 re- (1973, p. 151). The procedure is quite consponses if the phoneme was placed in the servative since it tests for the six possible
second syllable (per pro; mand co), or l-2 pairwise differences simultaneously. When
responses if the phoneme was placed in the first syllable was stressed, 1 and 2 reboth syllables (per prop; mand corn).
sponses did not differ significantly. When
“Other” responses were those that did not the second syllable was stressed, 2 refit any of these categories (er pro; ommand
sponses significantly outnumbered 1 reco). Each subject’s data were adjusted ac- sponses. Also, 1-2 responses only outcording to how that subject spelled the numbered Other responses when the critstimuli. For example, if a subject spelled ical consonant was spelled with two letters.
command
with one m rather than two,
To further study the effects of spelling
command was placed in the category of and stress on subjects’ responses, analyses
stimuli with second syllable stress and of variance were carried out. Two depensingle letter spellings for that subject. All dent variables were used. The first was the
the results to be reported in this and subse- proportion of l-2 responses, that is, how
quent experiments are based on the ad- often subjects placed the critical consonant
justed data. Statistical analyses were car- in both syllables. The second was the prosity, Bloomington, participated in the oral
task and 24 students from Wayne State
University participated in the written task.
The students in this and subsequent experiments received course credit or pay in return for participation; all were native
speakers of English.
TREIMAN
92
AND DANIS
TABLE 2
RESULTS OF ORAL AND WRMTEN TASKS OF EXPERIMENT 1
Written task
Oral task
Mean proportion
responses
1 vs 2
l-2 vs Other
Prop. I
responses
Diff. from
.50 by
two-tailed
t tests
n.s.
2>1
n.s.
2>1
n.s.
n.s.
1-2 > Other
l-2 > Other
.60
.14
.68
.42
ns.
C.50
n.s.
n.s.
Multiple comparisons
based on rank sums
Spelling
Stress
1
2
l-2
Other
1
1
2
2
1
2
1
2
.34
.08
.15
.04
.50
.87
.24
.50
.12
.03
.60
.45
.04
.02
.Ol
.Ol
portion of 1 responses relative to the total
To summarize the results of the oral task,
of 1 and 2 responses, that is, how often
both spelling and stress affected perforsubjects placed the consonant in the first mance. With respect to spelling, subjects
syllable given that they chose to put it in were more likely to place the critical
in both syllables
when they
one syllable only.4 Thus defined, the two phoneme
spelled it with a double letter than when
variables are logically and empirically indethey spelled it with a single letter. Subjects’
pendent.
responses
were also affected by a phonoThe proportion of l-2 responses varied
logical
variable,
stress. When the second
as a function of spelling (F( 1,19) = 37.80 in
syllable
was
stressed,
subjects placed the
the analysis by subjects; F(1,40) = 297.01
consonant
in
the
second
syllable signifiin the analysis by items; p < .OOl for both)
cantly
more
often
than
they
placed it in the
and stress (F(1,19) = 17.57 by subjects;
F(1,40) = 14.95 by items; p < .OOl for first syllable. When the first syllable was
both). Subjects were more likely to place
stressed, subjects showed no reliable preference between first syllable responses and
the consonant in both syllables when they
spelled it with a double letter than when second syllable responses. Also, subjects
they spelled it with a single letter. Also,
more often placed the consonant in both
they were more likely to produce 1-2 re- syllables
when the first syllable
was
sponses when the first syllable
was stressed than when the second syllable was
stressed than when the second syllable was stressed.
The results of the written task are shown
stressed.
The proportion of 1 responses relative to on the right side of Table 2. Two-tailed t
1 responses plus 2 responses varied as a tests showed that when the critical consofunction of stress (F(1,19) = 29.44 in the nant was spelled with a single letter subanalysis by subjects; F(1,40) = 85.03 in the jects had no reliable syllabification
preferanalysis by items; p < .OOl for both). When
ence when the first vowel was stressed but
subjects placed the critical consonant in generally
placed the consonant
in the
just one syllable, they were more likely to second syllable when the second vowel
choose the first syllable for stimuli with was stressed. Subjects showed no reliable
first syllable stress than for stimuli with preferences when the critical consonant
was spelled with two letters.
second syllable stress.
Analyses of variance showed a main effect of stress (F(1,23) = 76.19 by subjects;
4 If the total of 1 and 2 responses was 0, the mean F(1,40) = 102.50 by items; p < .OOl for
both). As in the oral task, the proportion of
value was used.
SYLLABIFICATIONOFINTERVOCALICCONSONANTS
93
first syllable responses was higher when consonant. Using the two tasks of Experithe first syllable was stressed than when ment 1, we compared performance
on
the second syllable was stressed. In addi- words with medial liquids, nasals, and obstruents (which include stops and frication, there was a main effect of spelling
research using speech
(F(1,23) = 38.26 in the analysis by sub- tives). Previous
jects; F(1,40) = 20.88 in the analysis by errors (MacKay, 1978; Shattuck-Hufnagel,
items; p < .OOl for both) and an interaction
1986; Stemberger,
1983b), word games
between spelling and stress (F(1,23) = (Treiman, 1984), and short-term memory
35.96 by subjects, p < .OOl; F(1,40) = 5.86 errors (Treiman & Danis, in press) suggests
by items, p < .05). The effect of spelling
that liquids have the closest association
arose because subjects were more likely to with the preceding vowel. This leads us to
place the critical consonant in the first syl- expect that the il! of melon would be placed
lable when it was spelled with two letters
in the first syllable more often than the /v/
than when it was spelled with one letter.
of seven. Experiment
2 also manipulated
For two letter spellings,
divisions
like
the factors of stress and spelling in an atcommla and commland
produce orthotempt to replicate the findings of Experigraphically legal first portions, in the sense ment 1.
that words can end with double consonants. Divisions
like colmma
and co/
Method
mmand are illegal, in that words hardly
ever begin with double consonants.
For Procedure
one letter spellings, there is usually no such
The procedure for the oral task was simdifference in orthographic legality. The inilar
to that of Experiment
1. However,
teraction between spelling and stress arose
since
all
the
test
stimuli
were
bisyllabic
because the effect of stress was smaller, alonly
two-syllable
practice
items
were
used.
though still significant, when the critical
The
experimenter
said
each
stimulus
in a
consonant was spelled with two letters than
phrase
or
sentence
before
asking
the
subwith one. People have some difficulty
ject to respond. The procedure for the
choosing between syllabifications
like
written task was identical to that of Expericommla and colmma, neither of which corment
1.
responds to their preferred syllabification
comlma.
The results of the written syllabification
test cannot be predicted based on the bigram frequencies of the stimuli. For example, subjects treated words like proper
and propel differently but these two types
of words had the same patterns of bigram
frequencies. The implications of the results
for various theories of syllabification
will
be further discussed under General Discussion.
EXPERIMENTS
Experiment 2 examined another variable
that may affect subjects’ syllabificationsthe phonetic category of the intervocalic
Stimuli
The stimuli for Experiment
2 varied in
stress (first syllable stressed or second syllable stressed), spelling (critical consonant
spelled with single letter or double letter),
and type of critical consonant
(liquid,
nasal, or obstruent). There were 10 twosyllable words of each of the 12 types. Examples, along with the mean bigram frequencies for the bigrams surrounding the
critical letter(s), are shown in Table 3.
Subjects
Twenty Wayne State University students
participated in the oral task and 24 students
participated in the written task. One sub-
94
TREIMAN
AND DANIS
TABLE 3
SAMPLE STIMULI FOR EXPERIMENT
2 AND MEAN FREQUENCIES
FOR BIGRAMS SURROUNDING
CRITICAL
LETTJZR(S) ACCORDING
TO MAYZNER
AND TRESSELT (1965) (MT) AND SOLSO AND JUEL (1981) (SJ)
Bigram frequencies
Spelling
Stress
c type
1
1
L
melon
1
1
N
lemon
1
1
0
seven
1
2
L
relate
1
2
N
canoe
1
2
0
guitar
2
1
L
borrow
2
1
N
bonnet
2
1
0
bobbin
2
2
L
balloon
2
2
N
2
2
0
Prior
bigram
Example
buffet
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
561
1461
335
928
543
823
541
1374
679
1712
573
1513
169*
721
2%
895
271
742
290*
2422
329
2961
235
1032
VC
cc
cv
Subsequent
bigram
431
909
%3
797
172*
379*
656
756%
445
645
222*
556
473
944
706
700
135
228*
613
886
854
828
260
260*
-
396
364*
153*
206*
214
640
495*
988
319*
362*
238
162*
442
784
292
535
119
577
520
746
358
403
231
547
299*
831
389
507
570
1130
517
843
733
%5
639
1176
369
651*
531
1638
642
1076
459
572*
670
660
407
837
451
1014
49*
342*
50*
347
308
663
44*
183*
96*
3%
Note. Critical letter(s) is italicized and lowest bigram frequency is marked with *. L, liquid; N, nasal; 0,
obstruent.
ject who originally participated in the oral cantly outnumbered 1 responses for only
task was replaced because of inability to two types of stimuli, both of which had
second syllable stress and single letter
perform the task.
spellings.
The proportion of 1-2 responses varied
Results and Discussion
as a function of spelling (F(1,19) = 114.46
The results of the oral task are shown on in the analysis by subjects; F(1,108) =
the left side of Table 4. Friedman analyses 655.17 in the analysis by items; p -C .OOlfor
of variance by ranks were carried out sepa- both). As in Experiment 1, when subjects
rately for each stimulus type; in all cases spelled an intervocalic consonant with two
the difference among the four types of re- letters they were more likely to place that
sponses was statistically significant (p < consonant in both syllables of their re.OOl). As in Experiment 1, multiple com- sponse. Stress also affected l-2 responses
parisons based on rank sums showed that (F(1,19) = 17.19 by subjects; F(l,lOS) =
1-2 responses significantly outnumbered 71.52 by items; p < .OOlfor both). Subjects
Other responses when the critical conso- more often placed a consonant in both sylnant was spelled with two letters. In this lables when the first syllable was stressed
experiment, however, 2 responses signifi- than when the second syllable was
SYLLABIFICATION
RESULTS
OF
OF INTERVOCALIC
95
CONSONANTS
TABLE 4
ORAL AND WRITTEN TASKS OF EXPERIMENT 2
Written task
Oral task
Multiple comparisons
based on rank sums
Mean proportion
responses
Spelling
Stress
C type
1
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
2
2
2
2
1
1
1
2
2
2
1
1
1
2
2
2
L
N
0
L
N
0
L
N
0
L
N
0
.41
.50
.35
.12
.08
.06
.13
.14
.14
.06
.Ol
.06
.30
.32
.49
.x3
.84
.93
.08
.06
.I1
.35
.29
.41
l-2
.23
.17
.16
.lO
.08
.Ol
.78
.80
35
.59
.64
.48
Other
.OO
.Ol
.Ol
.Ol
.oo
.oo
.OO
40
.oo
.oo
.OO
.OO
1 vs 2
1-2 vs Other
ns.
n.s.
n.s.
2>1
2>1
n.s.
n.s.
ns.
n.s.
n.s.
n.s.
n.s.
n.s.
n.s.
n.s.
ll.S.
l-2
l-2
1-2
l-2
l-2
l-2
n.s.
n.s.
> Other
> Other
> Other
> Other
> Other
> Other
Prop. 1
responses
.62
.70
.52
.28
.15
.13
.62
.61
.54
.31
.45
.32
Diff. from
.50 by
two-tailed
t tests
n.s.
>.so
n.s.
<so
<.so
<so
n.s.
n.s.
n.6.
n.s.
n.s.
c.50
---
Note. L, liquid; N, nasal; 0, obstruent.
stressed. The effect of stress replicates that
found in Experiment 1. Finally, there was a
main effect of consonant type (F(2,38) =
7.16 by subjects; F(2,108) = 5.07 by items;
p < .Ol for both). Post hoc tests showed
that subjects were more likely to place an
intervocalic liquid or nasal in both syllables
than an intervocalic obstruent.
An analysis of the proportion of 1 responses relative to the number of 1 responses plus 2 responses yielded a main effect of stress (F(1,19) = 58.49 in the analysis by subjects; F(l,lOS) = 143.54 in the
andysis by items; p < .OOlfor both). As in
Experiment 1, subjects were more likely to
choose 1 responses when the first syllable
was stressed than when the second syllable
was stressed. (The main effect of consonant type was significant in the analysis by
subjects, F(2,38) = 7.97, p < .OOl, but did
not reach the .05 level in the analysis by
items, F(2,108) = 2.53, p < .lO).
The results of the written task appear on
the right side of Table 4. Analyses of variance found a main effect of spelling
(F(1,23) = 6.69, p < .05 in the analysis by
subjects; F(1,108) = 15.38, p < .OOl in the
analysis by items). Subjects made more
first syllable responses when the critical
consonant was spelled with two letters than
when it was spelled with one letter. There
was also a main effect of stress (F(1,23) =
39.14 by subjects; F(1,108) = 188.86 by
items; p < .OOlfor both). First syllable responses were more common when the first
syllable was stressed than when the second
syllable was stressed. The interaction between spelling and stress was also significant (F(1,23) = 22.03 by subjects; F(1,108)
= 25.02 by items; p < .OOl for both),
showing that the effect of stress was
greater when the critical consonant was
spelled with one letter than when it was
spelled with two letters. All these effects
replicate those previously found in Experiment 1. In addition, the main effect of consonant type was significant (F(2,46) =
16.98 by subjects, p < .OOl; F(2,108) =
6.84 by items, p < .005). Subjects made
more first syllable responses for liquids and
nasals than for obstruents, the same trend
observed in the oral task.
The results of the written task do not
show a close correspondence to the bigram
frequencies. For example, the words with
single letter spellings and second syllable
TREIMANANDDANIS
96
stress showed a predominance of second
syllable responses, but did not in general
have a bigram trough at the VC boundary.
In summary, Experiment 2 found the
same effects of spelling and stress previously observed in Experiment 1. In addition, subjects’ responses in the oral and
written tasks were affected by the type of
intervocalic consonant. In the oral task,
subjects were more likely to place a liquid
or nasal in both syllables of their response
than to place an obstruent in both syllables.
Also, first syllable responses tended to be
more common for liquids and nasals than
for obstruents, although the trend did not
reach significance in the oral task. The interpretation of these results will be taken
up under General Discussion.
EXPERIMENT
3
One view of syllabification that has yet
to be examined is the notion that syllabification differs after “long” and “short”
vowels (Hansen & Rodgers, 1968; Pulgram, 1970; Webster’s, 1984). Experiment
3, therefore, examined V’CV sequences
that differed in their first vowel. The type
of consonant was also manipulated, as
done in Experiment 2. In Experiment 3, all
the intervocalic consonants were standardly spelled with a single letter. If, in the
previous experiments, 1-2 responses for
words with single letter spellings only arose
because of the inclusion of many words
with double letter spellings, few such
responses would be observed in Experiment 3.
Method
Procedure
The procedures for the oral and written tasks were identical to those of Experiment 2.
Stimuli
All the stimuli were two syllable words
with first syllable stress. The medial consonant was standardly spelled with a single
letter. The first vowel was either /I/, /E/,I=/,
Id, /al, Ii/, let, /ail, lo/, or lu/. The first five
vowels are called “short”or “lax” vowels
in that they cannot end a word in English.5
The second five vowels are considered
“long” or “tense.” They can occur in
word-final position. For each vowel, there
were four words with a medial liquid, four
with a medial nasal, and four with a medial
obstruent. An exception was the vowel /A/
with a following liquid; there was only one
stimulus in this category. The total number
of stimuli was 117. Table 5 gives the frequencies for the bigrams surrounding the
critical letter(s).
Subjects
Twenty Wayne State University students
participated in the oral task and 24 participated in the written task.
Results and Discussion
Table 6 shows the proportion of responses of each type in the oral task.
Friedman analyses of variance by ranks
were carried out separately for each stimulus type; in all cases the difference among
the four types of responses was statistically
significant (p < .OOl). Multiple comparisons showed that 2 responses significantly
outnumbered 1 responses when the vowel
was long and the consonant was an obstruent. Also, l-2 responses significantly
outnumbered Other responses when the
vowel was short and the consonant was a
liquid or nasal.
J While /a/ does occur word-finally
in a small
number of words (e.g., spa), it is generally considered
“short” when it occurs in words like olive. Subjects in
both the oral and written tasks did treat /al like lri, /c/,
/a~/, and IA/.
SYLLABIFICATION
OF INTERVOCALIC
TABLE
97
CONSONANTS
5
SAMPLE STIMULI FOR EXPERIMENT 3 AND MEAN FREQUENCIES FOR BIGRAMS SURROUNDING CRITICAL
LETTER
ACCORDING TO MAYZNER AND TRESSELT (1965) (MT) AND SOLSO AND JUEL (1981) (SJ)
Bigram frequencies
V type
C type
Example
Short
L
relish
Short
N
senate
Short
0
credit
Long
L
tulip
Prior
bigram
MT: 657
SJ: 1743
MT: 387
SJ: 1008
Long
N
tunic
Long
0
crisis
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
MT:
SJ:
488
1178
231*
894
355
1017
138*
830
VC
cv
375%
907
595
920
236%
647*
376
417*
270*
435*
257
673
371
342%
223*
144*
237
568
615
999
548
667
219
442*
Subsequent
bigram
426
792
485
602
640
2391
456
899
574
1047
729
2323
Note. Critical letter(s) is italicized and lowest bigram frequency is marked with *. L, liquid: N, nasal; 0,
obstruent.
Analyses of variance showed that the
proportion
of I-2 responses varied as a
function of vowel type (F(1,19) = 12.31 in
the analysis by subjects; F(1 ,111) = 49.44
in the analysis by items; p < .OOl for both).
There were more 1-2 responses for short
vowels than for long vowefs. In addition,
there was a main effect of consonant type
(F(2,38) = 18.92 by subjects; F(2,lll)
=
11.83 by items; p < .OOl for both). As in
Experiment 2, subjects made fewer l-2 re-
TABLE
sponses when the medial vowel was an obstruent than when it was a liquid or a nasal.
Liquids and nasals did not differ signiticantly.
The proportion of 1 responses relative to
the total of 1 responses and 2 responses
was greater for short vowels than for long
vowels (F( 1,19) = 45.55 in the analysis by
subjects; F(l,lll)
= 66.12 in the analysis
by items; p < .OOl for both). In addition,
there was a main effect of consonant type
6
RESULTS OF ORAL AND WRII-~EN TASKS OF EXPERIMENT 3
Written task
Oral task
Mean proportion
responses
Multiple comparisons
based on rank sums
V type
C type
1
2
l-2
Other
1 vs 2
l-2 vs Other
Short
Short
Short
Long
Long
Long
L
N
.40
.46
.27
.26
.26
.17
.33
.29
.58
.58
.68
.I9
.26
.24
.14
.15
.06
.03
.Ol
.02
.Ol
.02
as.
n.s.
ns.
n.s.
n.s.
1-2 > Other
l-2 > Other
n.s.
n.s.
ns.
ns.
0
L
N
0
Note. L, liquid; N, nasal; 0, obstruent.
.Ol
.02
2>1
Prop. 1
responses
Diff. from
SO by
two-tailed
t tests I
.s5
.I54
z>.50
n.s.
.44
.37
n.s.
<so
.14
.13
c.50
c.50
98
TREIMANANDDANIS
(F(2,38) = 12.33 by subjects; F(2,lll)
=
21.31 by items; p < .OOl for both) and an
interaction between vowel type and consonant type (F(2,38) = 4.51, p < .02 by subjects; F(2,lll) = 5.78, p < .005 by items).
On the whole, the proportion of 1 responses relative to 1 plus 2 responses was
greater for stimuli with medial liquids and
nasals than for stimuli with medial obstruents. However, nasals showed the
highest proportion in the short vowel case
and liquids showed the highest proportion
in the long vowel case.
In the written task, the proportion of 1
responses was higher for short vowels than
for long vowels (F(1,23) = 44.79 by subjects; F(1 ,111) = 119.76 by items; p < .OOl
for both). Also, there was a main effect of
consonant type (F(2,46) = 22.16 by subjects; F(2,lll) = 10.79 by items; p < .OOl
for both) and a vowel type by consonant
type interaction (F(2,46) = 24.68 by subjects; F(2,lll) = 8.88 by items; p < ,001
for both). In the short vowel case, 1 responses were most numerous for stimuli
with medial liquids while in the long vowel
case they were most numerous for stimuli
with medial nasals.
Subjects in the written task did not generally syllabify the words at the location of
the bigram trough. For example, the consonant was usually placed in the second syllable after a long vowel but the bigram
trough was not between the vowel and the
consonant for most of these stimuli.
To summarize, subjects’ responses in the
oral and written tasks were affected by the
phonological category of the medial consonant, as previously found in Experiment 2.
In the oral task, l-2 responses were more
frequent for words with medial liquids and
nasals than for words with medial obstruents. Also, given that subjects placed
the consonant in one syllable or the other,
they chose the first syllable more often for
liquids and nasals. The written task showed
parallel effects of consonant type. Subjects’ responses were also affected by the
type of vowel in the first syllable of the
V’CV. When the vowel was “short”, l-2
responses were fairly common. Also, the
proportion of first syllable responses was
higher for “short” vowels than for “long”
vowels. These results will be discussedfurther below.6
GENERAL DISCUSSION
Several variables affected subjects’ performances in the syllabification tasks used
here. We will review the influence of each
variable and then discuss the implications
of the results for various theories of syllabification.
One factor that affected subjects’ performances was the spelling of the stimuli. In
the oral syllabification task, people were
more likely to place an intervocalic consonant in both syllables if they thought that
the consonant was spelled with a double
letter than if they thought that it was
spelled with a single letter. When forced in
a written syllabification task to assign a
double consonant to one syllable or the
other, subjects performed near chance
levels. This probably occurred because the
one rule of syllabification that most subjects in all experiments remembered, according to the results of the interview given
after the written syllabification test, is to
divide double consonants. Subjects had
some difficulty when they were prevented
from applying this rule.
The effects of spelling on oral syllabification concur with previous findings (Ehri &
Wilce, 1986; Jakimik et al., 1985; Seidenberg & Tanenhaus, 1979) that spelling may
affect people’s performance in tasks that
do not specifically require its use. These
results pose problems for the study by
Fallows (1981), which did not consider the
effects of spelling on children’s oral syllabifications.
Double letter spellings, however, were
6 For some of the stimuli in Experiment 3 (those
marked with * in the Appendix), the classification of
the vowel preceding Irl is in doubt. The data were
therefore analyzed without these stimuli. The results
were similar to those reported.
SYLLABIFICATION
OF INTERVOCALIC
not the only factor that caused subjects in
the oral task to place a consonant in both
syllables. People made some such responses -up to 26%- when they knew
that the consonant was spelled with a single
letter. These responses continued to occur
in Experiment 3, which did not include any
words standardly spelled with double consonants. Other factors that promoted l-2
responses are discussed below.
In addition to spelling, subjects’ responses were also affected by phonological
factors. One such factor was the stress pattern of the stimuli. In the oral and written
tasks of Experiments 1 and 2, second syllable responses predominated for words
like device and canoe which have stress on
the second syllable. Such responses occurred between 72 and 93% of the time for
stimuli with second syllable stress provided
that the critical consonant was spelled with
a single letter. Another phonological factor
to affect the results was the type of medial
consonant. Experiments 2 and 3 found l-2
responses to be more frequent for words
with medial Iiquids and nasaIs than for
words with medial obstruents. First syllable responses showed the same trend.
Liquids and nasals seem to have a greater
degree of cohesion with the preceding
vowel and are more likely to be placed in
that vowel’s syllable. Finally, Experiment 3
found that subjects’ responses to V’CVs
were affected by whether the first vowel
was “short” or “long.” First syllable responses were more common in the short
vowel case than in the long vowel case, as
were l-2 responses.
How do the results fit with the linguistic
theories of syllabification that were discussed in the introductory remarks? Consider, first, the effects of stress. The predominance of second syllable syllabifications in the VCV’ case is consistent with
many linguistic theories. Linguists such as
Bailey (1978), Hoard (1971), Hooper
(1972), Kahn (1976), Pulgram (1970), and
Selkirk (1982) agree that VCV’ sequences
are syllabified as V-CV’ provided that the
C is legal in word-initial position, as was
CONSONANTS
99
the case for the stimuli used here. That
subjects usually placed the consonant of a
VCV’ in the second syllable speaks against
the theory of Anderson and Jones (1974),
which states that the intervocalic consonant is ambisyllabic in such cases.
Linguistic theories show much less
agreement for V’CV sequences than for
VCV’ sequences, and subjects’ responses
to V’CV sequences showed much less
agreement as well. In both Experiments 1
and 2, first syllable responses were more
common for V’CVs than for VCV’s; there
were also more l-2 responses for V’CVs.
That second syllable responses did not predominate for all V’CV sequences shows
that the results do not reflect slow speech
syllabification as described by Kahn (1976)
or the level of basic syllable composition as
described by Selkirk (1982), where VCVs
are syllabified as V-CV regardless of
stress. The results are also inconsistent
with Hoard’s (1971) theory, in which all
V’CV sequences are syllabified as V’C-V,
and with Selkirk’s surface level, where the
same syllabification occurs.
Current linguistic theories of syllabification do not predict the effects of consonant
type observed in these experiments. Most
linguistic theories do not differentiate
among intervocalic consonants as a function of their phonetic category.’ However,
there is some precedent for the present results in previous findings. Fallows (1981)
reported that ambisyllabic responses were
more frequent with liquids and nasals than
with other consonants. MacKay (1978),
Shattuck-Hufnagel (1986), and Stemberger
(1983b) using speech error evidence,
Treiman (1984) using word games, and
Treiman and Danis (in press) using memory
errors found that liquids have a closer bond
to the preceding vowel than do obstruents.
’ Bailey (1978) does treat liquids differently than
nasals and obstruents. However, he states that both
nasals and obstruents in V’CV sequences are syllabified with the preceding vowel, which is not consistent
with our results.
100
TREIMAN
Treiman (1984) and Treiman and Danis (in
press) found differences between liquids
and nasals; the speech error studies did not
discuss nasals. Thus, while there is some
question about the status of nasals relative
to liquids and obstruents, the present results agree with previous findings in suggesting that sonorants are more closely
linked to a preceding vowel than are obstruents. Sonority differences may need to
be built into theories of syllabification
as
well as theories of the structure of individual syllables.
Finally, we must consider the obtained
differences
between
“short”
versus
“long” vowels in light of linguistic theories
of syllabification.
Pulgram’s (1970) theory
and the theory embodied
in Webster’s
(1984) dictionary predict a difference between short and long vowels; the other linguistic theories do not. According to the
Pulgram and dictionary theories, first syllable responses should predominate whenever the first vowel of a V’CV is short;
second syllable responses should predominate whenever the vowel is long. The results were not completely consistent with
these predictions. Although second syllable
responses tended to be more frequent than
first syllable responses for long vowels, the
results varied with the type of consonant.
When the first vowel was short, the results
again differed by consonant type. Indeed,
with short vowels and medial obstruents
there was a nonsignificant
trend toward
second syllable responses- the reverse of
that predicted by the theories.
It is possible that the observed differences between short and long vowels are
an artifact of the present tasks. In the oral
task, subjects indicated their syllabifications by producing the first syllable of the
stimulus in the final position of their response. When the first syllable contained a
short vowel, subjects may have been more
likely to close that syllable with a consonant so as to produce a phonologically
legal
response. When the first syllable contained
a long vowel, a response without a final
AND
DANIS
consonant would be legal. If subjects pronounced the stimuli in the written task (as
most said they did), similar effects would
occur there. Phonological
legality can explain why subjects produced more first syllable responses for words with short
vowels in the first syllable and also for why
they produced more l-2 responses in this
case.
To determine
whether syllabification
truly differs as a function of vowel type, we
must develop a task in which subjects do
not need to pronounce syllables in isolation. One possibility,
following Treiman
and Danis (in press), is to study memory
errors for bisyllabic stimuli. For example,
when trying to remember
/gae’kat/ and
/ma ‘ball, are lgae’kall and /me ‘bat/ more
common errors than /gae’bal/ and /m e ‘kat/?
Such a result might suggest that the stimuli
are syllabified as /gz’k-al/
and /me ‘b-at/
and that errors may combine the first syllable of one stimulus with the second syllable of another. Until such an experiment
is done, no firm conclusions can be drawn
about the effect of vowel type on sylhbification.
Of the linguistic theories that were reviewed, two seem to have the best potential for accounting for the data. These are
the theories of Kahn (1976) and Selkirk
(1982). In Kahn’s theory, an intervocalic
consonant is syllable-initial
if the following
vowel is stressed. If the preceding vowel is
stressed, the consonant is ambisyllabic
in
normal and fast speech. The notion of ambisyllabicity
provides a possible explanation for the l-2 responses for V’CVs in the
oral task. According to Kahn, ambisyllabicity does not vary with the type of consonant. However, the results of Experiments
2 and 3 suggest that liquids and nasals are
more likely to be ambisyijabic
t,han obstruents. Kahn’s theory may need to be
modified by providing for greater ambisyllabicity for sonorants than for obstruents.
In addition,
Experiment
3 suggests that
consonants after short vowels are more
likely to be ambisyllabic
than consonants
SYLLABIFICATION
OF INTERVOCALIC
after long vowels, aithough as discussed
above this result has an alternative explanation. That l-2 responses never occurred
on more than about a quarter of the trials
could be seen as a further problem for
Kahn’s theory. If the consonants were
truly ambisy+labic, one might have expected many such responses. On the other
hand, subjects may have produced relatively few l-2 responses because no such
responses occurred during the practice
phase.
Selkirk’s (1982) theory provides an alternative way of explaining the resuits. According to this theory, intervocalic consonants are syllable-initial at the level of basic
syllable composition, provided that they
are phonologically legal in this position and
that there are no conflicting morphological
boundaries. Resyllabification rules then
move tile consonants in V’CVs to syllablefind position. At first glance, the present
results seem incompatible with this theory.
Subjects did not consistently place the medial consonant of words like proper in the
second syllable, as Selkirk’s ievel of basic
sytlabfe composition maintains, nor did
they consistently place the medial consonant in the first syllable, the syllabification
that results from the resyllabification rules.
However, the resuits may be consistent
with S&kirk’s theory if we hypothesize (as
S&irk does, p. 379) that people are sensitive to the discrepancy between underlying
and surface syhabifications in the case of
words Iike proper. Because the medial Ipl is
[email protected] at one level and syllablefinal at an&&r, people are unsure how to
treat it. Consequently, they sometimes
place it in the first syllable, sometimes in
the second syllable, and sometimes in both.
This view can explain why l-2 responses
did not predominate in the V’CV case.
However, Selkirk’s theory, like Kahn’s,
cannot explain why subjects’
choices are
affected by other factors such as the type of
consonant.
As discussed in the introductory remarks, a previous behavioral study (Stem-
CONSONANTS
101
berger, 1983a) argued for ambisyllabicity.
The evidence was that consonants like the
/t/ of water interact both with syllable-final
consonants and syllable-initial consonants
in speech errors. In contrast, consonants
whose syllable position is clear, like the /t/
of protect, almost always interact with consonants in the same syllabic position.
While this evidence is consistent with
Kahn’s (1976) theory, it does not conclusively show that the It/ of water is simultaneously represented as both syllable-final
and syllable-initial, as Kahn claims. It is
also possible, following Selkirk (1982), that
the consonant is syllable-initial at a deep
level and syllable-final at a surface level
and that some speech errors reflect one
level and some the other.
Syllable units play a role not only in linguistic theories but also in theories of word
recognition and reading. How do the units
found in the written task of the present
study correspond with the units that have
been hypothesized for reading? According
to Hansen and Rodgers (1968) and Spoehr
and Smith (1973), readers use syllable-like
units called VCGs. The VCGs of demon are
de and mon; the VCGs of lemon are lem
and on. As these examples show, the VCG
theory predicts a difference between long
and short vowels. Such a difference did appear in the present results, although as discussed above it could be an artifact. The
VCG theory may be able to account for the
effects of stress. The groupings predicted
by this theory depend on the particular
spelling-sound rules that are assumed and
on the nature of people’s phonological representations, topics upon which Hansen
and Rodgers (1968) do not elaborate. However, if the de of a word like demote is
translated into /da/, or if it is translated into
/di/ and this is later reduced to /da/, the
word would have the VCGs de and mote,
consistent with the present results. The
VCG theory does not, however, account
for the effects of consonant type that were
observed in these experiments.
According to Taft (1979), printed words
102
TREIMAN
AND DANIS
APPENDIX
are accessed in terms of BOSS units. The
units observed in the written task of the Stimuli for Experiment I
present study do not correspond to the
Single C spelling, first syllable stress: demon, revBOSS units proposed by Taft. For ex- erent,
cover, vanity, relative, proper, elephant, opium,
ample, since pairs like vanity and vanilla
elegant, protestant, dilettante, delicatessen, tomaand comma and command are orthograph- hawk, novelist, retina, devil, evil, delicate, remedy,
ically similar (and do not have a morpho- recipe, opening
Single C spelling, second syllable stress: demote,
logical boundary before the critical conso- reversal,
covert, vanilla, relaxing, propel, election,
nant or consonants), they have the same opinion, electric, protection, dilemma, deliberating,
BOSSes. Subjects in the present study, tomato, November, retirement, device, evict, delihowever, treated such pairs differently. In cious, remember, recital, opossum
Double C spelling, first syllable stress: comma,
particular, subjects preferred to divide a
common,
ballot, attitude, buffer, correlate,
written word like vanilla into vu and nillu corrugate, comment,
apparatus, appetite, attic, opportune, masrather than into the BOSS unit van plus sacre, occult, illustrate, effigy, commodore, accurate,
illu, However, the units involved in lexical appetizer, asset, posse
Double C spelling, second syllable stress: comaccess and the units involved in decisions
about syllabification could well be dif- mand, commode, commend, balloon, attorney, buffet,
correction, corruption, apparently, appearance, attire,
ferent .
opponent, massages, occur, illusion, efficient, comA similar distinction must be made with motion, accustom, appendages, assess, possess
respect to the theories of Adams (1981) and
Seidenberg (1987). According to Seiden- Stimuli for Experiment 2
berg, the units that are involved in the iniSingle C spelling, first syllable stress, liquid: melon,
tial processing of written words can be de- relic, malice, relish, aloe, solid, solace, Alex, Alice,
fined on an orthographic basis. Breaks be- colic
Single C spelling, first syllable stress, nasal: lemon,
tween units are located where the panic,
manage, vanish, manic, Amish, tonic, blemish,
associations between adjacent letters are anise, sonic
weakest. Such units did not appear to play
Single C spelling, first syllable stress, obstruent:
a role in the present task. Our subjects syl- seven, epic, avid, radish, acid, topic, logic, ever,
labified words like propel differently than habit, robin
Single C spelling, second syllable stress, liquid: rewords like proper even though the two
select, delay, carouse, sarong, erase, elect,
types of words have similar patterns of bi- late,
alarm, Elaine, erect
gram frequencies. It appears that the sylSingle C spelling, second syllable stress, nasal:
lable-like units that emerge in the early pro- canoe, demand, deny, remorse, amuse, amaze,
cessing of written words are not identical amount, enough, remain, emerge
Single C spelling, second syllable stress, obstruent:
to phonological syllables, a point also made
depend, reveal, guitar, report, evade, adorn, obey,
by Prinzmetal et al. (1986).
adore, abuse, divorce
To interpret the role that syllable-like
Double C spelling, first syllable stress, liquid:
units may play in various reading tasks, it borrow, sorrow, trolley, ballot, fellow, valley, pillow,
is necessary to have a better understanding gully, Ellen, pillage
Double C spelling, first syllable stress, nasal:
of phonological syllables. The research
bonnet, sonnet, comma, Dennis, tennis, annals, inner,
presented here is a first step in that direc- bunny, penny, rummage
tion. A complete picture of phonological
Double C spelling, first syllable stress, obstruent:
syllabification will require the use of other bobbin, lobby, hobby, rabbit, fetter, baffle, cribbage,
tasks and the examination of other cases, buggy, Betty, luggage
Double C spelling, second syllable stress, liquid:
such as intervocalic clusters. At this point,
collide,
corral, balloon, collect, arrange, array, corhowever, it is clear that close attention rect, allow,
ellipse, arrest
must be paid to linguistic factors when
Double C spelling, second syllable stress, nasal:
studying the role of syllables in the pro- connect, command, connive, commit, immense, innate, announce, commend, anneal, annoy
cessing of spoken and written language.
SYLLABIFICATION
OF INTERVOCALIC
Double C spelling, second syllable stress, obstruent: support, suppose, suffice, buffet, massage,
attire, occur, attend, effect, afford
Stimuli for Experiment
3
/I/, liquid: lily, Lihth, chili, Philip
/I/, nasal: limit, clinic, image, linen
/I/, obstruent: critic, liver, livid, vigor
/F/, liquid: relic, relish, melon, Helen
W, nasal: lemon, venom, senate, tenant
/d, obstruent: credit, second, devil, medal
/a~/, liquid: Alice, balance, valid, salad
/a~/, nasal: vanish, banish, camel, manage
ire/, obstruent: acid, avid, hazard, placid
IA/, liquid: color
IA/, nasal: punish, money, honey, pumice
/A/, obstruent: shovel, oven, study, cover
/a/, liquid: column, solid, colic, olive
/a/, nasal: onyx, honest, honor, promise
/a/, obstruent: Robert, profit, proper, product
ii/, liquid: era*, Eli, series*, serum*
/i/, nasal: lemur, Venus, demon, senile
/i/, obstruent: even, evil, liter, ego
lel, liquid: Paris*, parent*, Eric*, valence
iei, nasal: shaman, banal, Damon, Amos
/e/, obstruent: bacon, baby, basis, raven
/ai/, liquid: iris, lilac, pilot, silo
/ail, nasal: final, lima, Simon, sinus
/ai/, obstruent: Ivan, vital, libel, crisis
/o/, liquid: molar, moral*, coral*, solar
lo/, nasal: omen, moment, onus, bonus
/o/, obstruent: motor, oval, open, yoga
lul, liquid: hula, Julie, lurid*, tulip
/ii/, nasal: tumor, rumor, tunic, unit
/u/, obstruent: Judas, judo, Yukon, scuba
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