In the present study, we investigate how lexicality affects the processing of suprasegmental features at the word level. In contrast to earlier studies which analyzed the role of either segmental or suprasegmental feature in language processing our aim was to investigate the effect of the lexical status on the processing of violated stress pattern defined by linguistic rules. We have conducted a passive oddball ERP experiment, presenting a frequent CVCV word with legal (familiar) and illegal (unfamiliar) stress patterns. Former results obtained with pseudo-words in a similar paradigm enabled to assess the influence of lexical information on stress processing. The presence of lexically relevant information resulted in different ERP patterns compared to those obtained with pseudo-words. We obtained two consecutive MMN responses to the illegally stressed words while violating the illegal stress pattern with a legal one the deviant stimulus elicited two consecutive MMN responses as well. In the latter condition lexicality clearly enhanced the comparison of prosodic information between standard and deviant stimuli, as these components very completely missing when presenting pseudo-words. We interpret the results that lexicality acts as a filter since in the absence of lexical familiarity unfamiliar stress patterns are discriminated better. Our results highlight that even when stress is fully predictable, it is taken into account during pre-attentive processing of linguistic input.
- Speech perception
- Word stress
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Physiology (medical)