Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 91–110 | Cite as

To what extent do orthographic units in print mirror phonological units in speech?



Three experiments were performed to examine the degree to which the orthographic units in printed syllables reflect the phonological units in speech. Two of the experiments used a pronunciation decision task in which subjects had to determine whether a nonword sounded like a real word when pronounced. The third experiment used a lexical decision task. In all three experiments, evidence was obtained for orthographic units that correspond to onsets and rimes. The evidence was equivocal on whether the phonological category of the consonant that follows the vowel affects the internal structure of the orthographic rime as it does the structure of the phonological rime. The results are discussed in terms of the role of linguistic units in the processing of print.


Cognitive Psychology Internal Structure Lexical Decision Decision Task Lexical Decision Task 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bowey, J. A. (1990). Orthographic onsets and rimes as functional units of reading.Memory & Cognition, 18, 419–427.Google Scholar
  2. Bowey, J. A. (1993). Orthographic rime priming.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 46A, 247–271.Google Scholar
  3. Claxton, G. L. (1974). Initial consonant groups function as units in word integrity of syllabic onsets.Journal of Memory and Langauge, 26, 406–418.Google Scholar
  4. Derwing, B. L., & Nearey, T. M. (1991, August).The “vowel-stickiness” phenomenon: Three experimental sources of evidence. Paper presented at the Twelfth International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Aix-en-Provence, France.Google Scholar
  5. Derving, B. L., Nearey, T. M. & Dow, M. L. (1987, December).On the structure of the vowel nucleus: Experimental evidence. Paper presented at the Linguistic Society of America, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  6. Fowler, C. A. (1987). Consonant-vowel cohesiveness in speech production as revealed by initial and final consonant exchanges.Speech Communication, 6, 231–244.Google Scholar
  7. Fowler, C. A., Treiman, R., & Gross, J. (1993). The structure of English syllables and polysyllables,Journal of Memory and Language, 32, 115–140.Google Scholar
  8. Kučera, H., & Francis, W. N. (1967).Computational analysis of present-day American English. Providence: Brown University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Ladefoged, P. (1982).A course in phonetics (2nd ed.). San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  10. Levitt, A., Healy, A. F., & Fendrich, D. W. (1991). Syllable-internal structure and the sonority hierarchy: Differential evidence from lexical decision, naming, and reading.Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 20, 337–363.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. MacKay, D. G. (1972). The structure of words and syllables: Evidence from errors in speech.Cognitive Psychology, 3, 210–227.Google Scholar
  12. MacKay, D. G. (1978). Speech crrors inside the syllable. In A. Bell & J. B. Hooper (Eds.),Syllables and segments (pp. 201–212). Amsterdam: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  13. Prinzmetal, W., Treiman, R., & Rho, S. (1986). How to see a reading unit.Journal of Memory and Language, 461–475.Google Scholar
  14. Rapp, B. C. (1992). The nature of sublexical orthographic organization: The bigram trough hypothesis examined.Journal of Memory and Language, 31, 33–55.Google Scholar
  15. Seidenberg, M. S. (1987). Sublexical structures in visual word recognition: Access units or orthographic redundancy? In M. Coltheart (Ed.),Attention and performance XII: The psychology of reading (pp. 245–263). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  16. Stemberger, J. P. (1983). The nature of /r/ and /l/ in English: Evidence from speech errors.Journal of Phonetics, 11, 139–147.Google Scholar
  17. Taraban, R., & McClelland, J. L. (1987). Conspiracy effects in word pronunciation.Journal of Memory and Language, 26, 608–631.Google Scholar
  18. Treiman, R. (1983). The structure of spoken syllables: Evidence from novel word games.Cognition, 15, 49–74.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Treiman, R. (1984). On the status of final consonant clusters in English syllables.Journal of Verbal Learing and Verbal Behavior, 23, 343–356.Google Scholar
  20. Treiman, R. (1989). The internal structure of the syllable. In G. Carlson & M. Tanenhaus (Eds.),Linguistic structure in language processing (pp. 27–52). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  21. Treiman, R., & Chafetz, J. (1987). Are there onset- and rime-like units in written words? In M. Coltheart (Ed.),Attention and Performance XII: The psychology of reading (pp. 281–298). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  22. Treiman, R., & Danis, C. (1988). Short-term memory errors for spoken syllables are affected by the linguistic structure of the syllables.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 14, 145–152.Google Scholar
  23. Treiman, R., Goswami, U., & Bruck, M. (1990). Not all nonwords are alike: Implications for reading development and theory.Memory & Cognition, 18, 559–567.Google Scholar
  24. Treiman, R., & Zukowski, A. (1988). Units in reading and spelling.Journal of Memory and Language, 27, 466–477.Google Scholar
  25. Yaniv, I., Meyer, D. E., Gordon, P. C., Huff, C. A., & Sevald, C. A. (1990). Vowel similarity, connectionist models, and syllable structure in motor programming of speech.Journal of Memory and Language, 29, 1–26.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWayne State UniversityDetroit

Personalised recommendations