Overlaps in form and meaning between morphologically related words have led to ambiguities in interpreting priming effects in studies of lexical organization. In Semitic languages like Arabic, however, linguistic analysis proposes that one of the three component morphemes of a surface word is the CV-Skeleton, an abstract prosodic unit coding the phonological shape of the surface word and its primary syntactic function, which has no surface phonetic content (McCarthy, J. J. (1981). A prosodic theory of non-concatenative morphology, Linguistic Inquiry, 12 (...) 373-418). The other two morphemes are proposed to be the vocalic melody, which conveys additional syntactic information, and the root, which defines meaning. In three experiments using masked, cross-modal, and auditory-auditory priming we examined the role of the vocalic melody and the CV-Skeleton as potential morphemic units in the processing and representation of Arabic words. Prime/target pairs sharing the vocalic melody but not the CV-Skeleton consistently failed to prime. In contrast, word pairs sharing only the CV-Skeleton primed reliably throughout, with the amount of priming being as large as that observed between word pattern pairs sharing both vocalic melody and CV-Skeleton. Priming between morphologically related words can be observed when there is no overlap either in meaning or in surface phonetic form. (shrink)
The on-line interpretation of utterances in discourse contexts was investigated by varying the type of dependency between an utterance and its context. Listeners heard short sequences of utterances ending in incomplete fragments. The fragments varied in length and in whether their anaphoric linkage to the context (by repeated names, pronouns or zero anaphors) required inferences to be resolved. The subject's task was to name a visual continuation probe that appeared at the offset of the fragment. The differences between naming latencies (...) to appropriate versus inappropriate probes was constant across conditions, and irrespective of whether or not inference-based processes were required to determine this preference. This was interpreted as showing that on-line speech processing is not necessarily slowed down by the use of inference to link utterances to their contexts. (shrink)
Norris et al. argue against using evidence from phonetic decision making to support top-down feedback in lexical access on the grounds that phonetic decision relies on processes outside the normal access sequence. This leaves open the possibility that bottom-up connectionist models, with some contextual constraints built into the access process, are still preferred models of spoken-word recognition.