Accentual Phrase boundaries and lexical access in French

Amandine Michelas, Mariapaola D’Imperio, Université Aix-Marseille I et Laboratoire Parole et langage

In French, a phonological phrase (PP) can either be isomorphic with an accentual phrase (AP) or else be produced as two separate APs, when possible. The PP has also been recently found to be directly involved in lexical access processing, in that a PP boundary might remove a temporary lexical ambiguity. In a set of two experiments, we show here that a temporary lexically ambiguous sequence can also be removed by the presence of an AP boundary. Specifically, reaction times for word monitoring were faster for ambiguous sequences when an AP boundary was present. These results suggest that tonal cues and other phonetic/phonological properties of the auditory stimuli have an impact on word recognition and must be considered for lexical access in French.