Syllable articulation influences foveal and parafoveal processing of words during the silent reading of Chinese sentences

Ming Yan, Yingyi Luo, Albrecht W. Inhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


The current study examined effects of syllable articulation on eye movements during the silent reading of Chinese sentences, which contained two types of two-character target words whose second characters were subject to dialect-specific variation. In one condition the second syllable was articulated with a neutral tone for northern-dialect Chinese speakers and with a full tone for southern-dialect Chinese speakers (neutral-tone target words) and in the other condition the second syllable was articulated with a full tone irrespective of readers' dialect type (full-tone target words). Native speakers of northern and southern Chinese dialects were recruited in Experiment 1 to examine the effect of dialect-specific articulation on silent reading. Recordings of their eye movements revealed shorter viewing durations for neutral- than for full-tone target words only for speakers of northern but not for southern dialects, indicating that dialect-specific articulation of syllabic tone influenced visual word recognition. Experiment 2 replicated the syllabic tone effect for speakers of northern dialects, and the use of gaze-contingent display changes further revealed that these readers processed an upcoming parafoveal word less effectively when a neutral- than when a full-tone target was fixated. Shorter viewing duration for neutral-tone words thus cannot be attributed to their easier lexical processing; instead, tonal effects appear to reflect Chinese readers' simulated articulation of to-be-recognized words during silent reading.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-103
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • Articulation duration
  • Chinese
  • Neutral tone
  • Sentence reading
  • Syllabic tone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

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