It has been shown that in Germanic languages (e.g. English, Dutch) phonemes are the primary (proximate) planning units during the early stages of phonological encoding. Contrastingly, in Chinese and Japanese the phoneme does not seem to play an important role but rather the syllable (Chinese) and mora (Japanese) are essential. However, despite the lack of behavioral evidence, neurocorrelational studies in Chinese suggested that electrophysiological brain responses (i.e. preceding overt responses) may indicate some significance for the phoneme. We investigated this matter in Japanese and our data shows that unlike in Chinese (for which the literature shows mixed effects), in Japanese both the behavioral and neurocorrelational data indicate an important role only for the mora (and not the phoneme) during the early stages of phonological encoding.
The current study investigated the verbal responses of two Japanese English bilingual groups of different proficiency levels when naming English words and found that the presence or absence of vowel epenthesis depended on proficiency. The results indicate that: English word pronunciation by low-proficient Japanese English bilinguals is likely based on their L1 building block and that future studies would benefit from analyzing the acoustic data as well when making inferences from chronometric data.
Speech production studies have shown that phonological unit initially used to fill the metrical frame during phonological encoding is language specific, that is, a phoneme for English and Dutch, an atonal syllable for Mandarin Chinese, and a mora for Japanese. Korean is particularly interesting as there might be both phonemic and syllabic influences during phonological encoding. The purpose of this study is to further examine the initial phonological preparation unit in Korean, employing a masked priming task and a phonological Stroop task.