Segmental phonology and the perception of syntactic structure
Recent research in speech production has shown that syntactic structure is reflected in segmental phonology--the application of certain phonological rules of English (e.g., palatalization and alveolar flapping) is inhibited across phrase boundaries. We examined whether such segmental effects can be used in speech perception as cues to syntactic structure, and the relation between the use of these segmental features as syntactic markers in production and perception. Speakers of American English (a dialect in which the above segmental effects occur) could indeed use the segmental cues in syntax perception; speakers of British English (in which the effects do not occur) were unable to make use of them, while speakers of British English who were long-term residents of the United States showed intermediate performance.
Publication typeJournal article