The authors examined markedness effects in the processing of orthographic stimuli beginning with onset clusters that varied in sonority profile. Using a speeded orthographic same-different matching task, the authors found that presence of the most marked cluster type led to slower responses in two types of 'different' comparison: one in which a vowel was epenthesized into the cluster (e.g., rkip - REKIP), and one in which a vowel was inserted at the end of the word (e.g., rkip - RKIPE). The pattern of results suggests that, unlike in experiments with auditory stimuli, English speakers do not apply vowel epenthesis to repair visually-presented stimuli at any level of representation. To account for the experimental findings the authors developed an encoding precision hypothesis, according to which the observed processing slow-down reflects lower fidelity encoding (and hence greater target-probe similarity) for highly marked forms. The hypothesis is formalized within a general framework for gradient symbolic representation and computation. The results presented are consistent with the view that a common set of markedness constraints have diverse effects that reflect modality-specific perceptual challenges.
Proceedings of the 34th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Aaron Kaplan, Abby Kaplan, Miranda K. McCarvel, and Edward J. Rubin
Table of contents