Sound and Meaning Components during Speech Comprehension of Mandarin Compounds
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractUnder the framework of dual-route theory of speech comprehension, two neurological routes are simultaneously active during speech decoding, the dorsal stream and the ventral stream. The dorsal stream is argued to be a sound processor whereas the ventral stream is a meaning processor, hence in cognitive terms, they are called the sound component and the meaning component respectively. Hypotheses concerning the processing speed and response accuracy of these two cognitive components were tested on compound words in Modern Mandarin Chinese. Four experiments were run contrasting, the sound-based task and the meaning-based task, corresponding to each of the two cognitive components. In Experiment 1 and 2, the Task effect was tested on one set of words in which the word-level and word-initial-syllable frequencies were controlled. In Experiment 3 and 4, the Task effect was tested on a different set of words in which semantic transparency was controlled. Multiple regression analyses integrating the data collected in Experiment 1-4 were conducted to test which language theory was preferred, the probability-based theory, the rule-based theory or the integrative theory. The probability-based theory suggests that speech comprehension of compound words relies only on the probability distribution of linguistic units. The rule-based theory suggests that speech comprehension of compound words relies only on phrase-structural rules. The integrative theory suggests that speech comprehension of compound words relies on both the probabilities of linguistic units and phrase-structural rules. It was suggested that the integrative theory explains the data best, but further data testing is needed to confirm this hypothesis. The results of the present study provide evidence for functional trade-off of the sound and meaning components, garden path effects during parsing opaque words and the possibility of the role of a mirror system in human speech comprehension.
Degree ProgramGraduate College