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The Role of Markedness in Phonological Processing Above the Word Level


A rich body of psycholinguistic research demonstrates that the phonotactic well-formedness of a monomorphemic (non)word has an effect on the way that word is processed when perceived, and also impacts the cognitive effort involved its production in speech. This study examines the effect of phonological markedness across a word boundary on processing, looking at prosodically close English Adjective-Noun sequences in a well-formedness judgment task, a speeded production paradigm, and an accompanying speech-error analysis. I found that different types of phonotactic markedness are distinct in their strength of impact on processing in speech production, although only a subset of the constraints tested show a significant impact of markedness compared to unmarked items, and only one of them shows this effect in the expected inhibitory direction. These results raise interesting questions about the relationship between the neural-level language-production system and the symbolic-level phonological grammar and how the two interact in speech production.

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