Priming Stress Patterns in Word Recognition

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This study addresses the lexical representation of stress in a series of 5 intramodal and cross-modal priming experiments in the Greek language using lexical decision tasks with auditory and visual targets. Three-syllable primes and targets were matched in first syllable segments, length, and other variables, and differed segmentally in the second and third syllable. Primes matched or mismatched targets in stress, which was placed on the penultimate or antepenultimate syllable. There was no evidence for stress priming in either accuracy or latency of responses to either words or pseudowords in any of these experiments, either intramodally or cross-modally. In contrast, a control fragment priming experiment using only the first 2 syllables of the primes produced a significant effect of stress congruence for words but not for pseudowords. The results are interpreted in the context of previous findings in the literature as arising from lexical activation rather than from matching stress patterns. Overall, findings are consistent with lexical representations including stress information that is inseparable from segmental specification, rather than with abstract representations of metrical templates.

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