Segmentation by lexical subtraction in Hungarian speakers of second-language English

L. White, S.L. Mattys, J.F. Melhorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using cross-modal form priming, we compared the use of stress and lexicality in the segmentation of spoken English by native English speakers (L1) and by native Hungarian speakers of second-language English (L2). For both language groups, lexicality was found to be an effective segmentation cue. That is, spoken disyllabic word fragments were stronger primes in a subsequent visual word recognition task when preceded by meaningful words than when preceded by nonwords: For example, the first two syllables of corridor were a more effective prime for visually presented corridor when heard in the phrase anythingcorri than in imoshingcorri. The stress pattern of the prime (strong-weak vs. weak-strong) did not affect the degree of priming. For L1 speakers, this supports previous findings about the preferential use of high-level segmentation strategies in clear speech. For L2 speakers, the lexical strategy was employed regardless of L2 proficiency level and instead of exploiting the consistent stress pattern of their native language. This is clear evidence for the primacy and robustness of segmentation by lexical subtraction even in individuals whose lexical knowledge is limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-554
Number of pages11
JournalQuarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010

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