Background. A word whose body is pronounced in different ways in different words is body-inconsistent. When we take the unit that precedes the vowel into account for the calculation of body-consistency, the proportion of English words that are body-inconsistent is considerably reduced at the level of corpus analysis, prompting the question of whether humans actually use such head/onset-conditioning when they read.
Methods. Four metrics for head/onset-constrained body-consistency were calculated: by the last grapheme of the head, by the last phoneme of the onset, by place and manner of articulation of the last phoneme of the onset, and by manner of articulation of the last phoneme of the onset. Since these were highly correlated, principal component analysis was performed on them.
Results. Two out of four resulting principal components explained significant variance in the reading-aloud reaction times, beyond regularity and body-consistency.
Discussion. Humans read head/onset-conditioned words faster than would be predicted based on their body-consistency and regularity only. We conclude that humans are sensitive to the dependency between word-beginnings and word-ends when they read aloud, and that this dependency is phonological in nature, rather than orthographic.
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- word naming
- spelling-to-sound correspondence