Language-universal constraints on the segmentation of English

Norris, D., Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., Butterfield, S., & Kearns, R. K. (2000). Language-universal constraints on the segmentation of English. In A. Cutler, J. M. McQueen, & R. Zondervan (Eds.), Proceedings of SWAP (Workshop on Spoken Word Access Processes) (pp. 43-46). Nijmegen: Max-Planck-Institute for Psycholinguistics.
Two word-spotting experiments are reported that examine whether the Possible-Word Constraint (PWC) [1] is a language-specific or language-universal strategy for the segmentation of continuous speech. The PWC disfavours parses which leave an impossible residue between the end of a candidate word and a known boundary. The experiments examined cases where the residue was either a CV syllable with a lax vowel, or a CVC syllable with a schwa. Although neither syllable context is a possible word in English, word-spotting in both contexts was easier than with a context consisting of a single consonant. The PWC appears to be language-universal rather than language-specific.
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