In English, Dutch, and other European languages, it is well established that the fundamental phonological unit in word production is the phoneme; in contrast, recent studies have shown that in Chinese it is the (atonal) syllable and in Japanese the mora. The present study investigated whether this cross-language variation in the size of the unit of word production is due to the type of script used in the language (i.e., alphabetic, morphosyllabic, or moraic). Capitalizing on the multiscriptal nature of Japanese, and using the Stroop color naming task, we show that the overlap in the initial mora between the color name and the written distractor facilitates color naming independent of script type. These results confirm the mora as the phonological unit of word production in Japanese, and establish the Stroop color naming task as a useful task for investigating the fundamental (or “proximate”) phonological unit used in speech production.
- language production