Identifying the role of phonology in sentence-level reading Academic Article uri icon

  •  
  • Overview
  •  
  • Research
  •  
  • Identity
  •  
  • Additional Document Info
  •  
  • View All
  •  

abstract

  • Phonological properties of the words in a sentence have been shown to affect processing fluency and comprehension. However, the exact role of phonology in sentence comprehension remains unclear. If constituents are stored in working memory during routine processing and accessed through their phonological code, phonological information may exert a pervasive influence on post-lexical comprehension processes such as retrieval for thematic integration. On the other hand, if access to constituents in memory during parsing is guided primarily by syntactic and semantic information, the parser should be isolated from phonologically based effects. In two self-paced reading experiments, we tested whether phonological overlap between distractors and a retrieval target caused retrieval interference during thematic integration. We found that phonological overlap creates difficulty during the initial encoding of the filler, but there was no evidence that phonological overlap caused later interference when the filler was retrieved for thematic integration. Despite effects at encoding, phonological interference did not have a detrimental effect on comprehension. These results suggest that phonological information is not used as a retrieval cue during routine dependency construction in incremental sentence processing. We conclude by considering the potential importance of phonology in parsing under conditions of extraordinary syntactic and/or semantic interference.

publication date

  • February 2015