Latency to monitor for a designated initial phoneme in a sentence has been used to index momentary processing during comprehension, primarily in the study of lexically ambiguous sentences. Two experiments are reported which demonstrate that latencies are strongly affected by two properties of the word immediately preceding the target phoneme-its length and the phonological similarity of its initial phoneme to the target phoneme. Analysis of the materials used by three other phoneme monitoring studies dealing with lexical ambiguity revealed that these properties were confounded with the studies' ambiguity conditions, biasing for longer detection latencies in ambiguous Sentences. The results are discussed with respect to their implications for ambiguity research and speech perception in general.
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