The minimal unit of phonological encoding: prosodic or lexical

Linda Wheeldon, A Lahiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Citations (Scopus)


Wheeldon and Lahiri (Journal of Memory and Language 37 (1997) 356) used a prepared speech production task (Sternberg, S., Monsell, S., Knoll, R. L., & Wright, C. E. (1978). The latency and duration of rapid movement sequences: comparisons of speech and typewriting. In G. E. Stelmach (Ed.), Information processing in motor control and learning (pp. 117-152). New York: Academic Press; Sternberg, S., Wright, C. E., Knoll, R. L., & Monsell, S. (1980). Motor programs in rapid speech: additional evidence. In R. A. Cole (Ed.), The perception and production of fluent speech (pp. 507-534). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum) to demonstrate that the latency to articulate a sentence is a function of the number of phonological words it comprises. Latencies for the sentence [Ik zoek het] [water] 'I seek the water' were shorter than latencies for sentences like [Ik zoek] [vers] [water] 'I seek fresh water'. We extend this research by examining the prepared production of utterances containing phonological words that are less than a lexical word in length. Dutch compounds (e.g. ooglid 'eyelid') form a single morphosyntactic word and a phonological word, which in turn includes two phonological words. We compare their prepared production latencies to those syntactic phrases consisting of an adjective and a noun (e.g. oud lid 'old member') which comprise two morphosyntactic and two phonological words, and to morphologically simple words (e.g. orgel 'organ') which comprise one morphosyntactic and one phonological word. Our findings demonstrate that the effect is limited to phrasal level phonological words, suggesting that production models need to make a distinction between lexical and phrasal phonology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)B31-B41
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2002


  • prosody
  • phonological words
  • speech production


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