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Prosodic structure and phonetic processing: A cross-linguistic study

By Christophe Pallier, Anne Cutler and Nuria Sebastian-Gallés


Dutch and Spanish differ in how predictable the stress pattern is as a function of the segmental content: it is correlated with syllable weight in Dutch but not in Spanish. In the present study, two experiments were run to compare the abilities of Dutch and Spanish speakers to separately process segmental and stress information. It was predicted that the Spanish speakers would have more difficulty focusing on the segments and ignoring the stress pattern than the Dutch speakers. The task was a speeded classification task on CVCV syllables, with blocks of trials in which the stress pattern could vary versus blocks in which it was fixed. First, we found interference due to stress variability in both languages, suggesting that the processing of segmental information cannot be performed independently of stress. Second, the effect was larger for Spanish than for Dutch, suggesting that that the degree of interference from stress variation may be partially mitigated by the predictability of stress placement in the language

Topics: Cognitive Psychology, Psycholinguistics, Psychophysics
Year: 1997
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