Planning and Articulation in Incremental Word Production: Syllable-Frequency Effects in English

Joana Cholin, Gary S. Dell, Willem J.M. Levelt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated the role of syllables during speech planning in English by measuring syllable-frequency effects. So far, syllable-frequency effects in English have not been reported. English has poorly defined syllable boundaries, and thus the syllable might not function as a prominent unit in English speech production. Speakers produced either monosyllabic (Experiment 1) or disyllabic (Experiment 2-4) pseudowords as quickly as possible in response to symbolic cues. Monosyllabic targets consisted of either high- or low-frequency syllables, whereas disyllabic items contained either a 1st or 2nd syllable that was frequency-manipulated. Significant syllable-frequency effects were found in all experiments. Whereas previous findings for disyllables in Dutch and Spanish-languages with relatively clear syllable boundaries-showed effects of a frequency manipulation on 1st but not 2nd syllables, in our study English speakers were sensitive to the frequency of both syllables. We interpret this sensitivity as an indication that the production of English has more extensive planning scopes at the interface of phonetic encoding and articulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-122
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Articulation
  • Language production
  • Speech planning
  • Syllable-frequency effects
  • Word-form encoding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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