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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1995 Apr;21(2):344-59.

Lexical and prelexical influences on word segmentation: evidence from priming.

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Department of Psychology, Harvard University, USA.


The authors examined the interaction of acoustic and lexical information in lexical access and segmentation. The cross-modal lexical priming technique was used to determine which word meanings listeners access at the offsets of oronyms (e.g., tulips or two lips) presented in connected speech. In Experiment 1, participants showed priming by the meaning of tulips when presented with two lips. In Experiment 2, priming by the meaning of the 2nd word was found in such sequences (e.g., lips in two lips). Finally, Experiment 3 demonstrated that listeners do not show priming by lips when it is pronounced as part of tulips. The results of these experiments show that listeners sometimes access words other than those intended by speakers and may simultaneously access words associated with several parses of ambiguous sequences. Furthermore, the results suggest that acoustic marking of word onsets places constraints on the success of lexical access. To account for these results, the authors propose a new model of lexical access and segmentation.

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