Constructing initial phonology in Mandarin Chinese: Syllabic or subsyllabic? A masked priming investigation

Rinus G. Verdonschot, Jun Lai, Feng Chen, Katsuo Tamaoka, Niels O. Schiller

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research has put forward the idea that Chinese speech production is governed by the syllable as the fundamental phonological unit. However, it may be that onset priming might be more difficult to obtain in Mandarin Chinese. Therefore, in this study, the degree of overlap between prime and target was increased from C to CV (i.e., extending beyond the phoneme) as well as whether primes and targets had an overlapping structure (CV vs. CVN). Subsyllabic priming effects were found (i.e., onset+vowel overlap but not purely onset overlap), contrasting with the claim that the syllable is the compulsory building block in the initial construction of Mandarin Chinese phonology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-68
Number of pages8
JournalJapanese Psychological Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese
  • Fundamental unit
  • Language production
  • Masked priming
  • Proximate unit
  • Psycholinguistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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