In the blocked cyclic naming task, native Mandarin speakers named pictures with disyllabic names in small sets and blocks, with the critical manipulation whether pictures within a block shared an atonal syllable or not. We found the expected facilitation when the overlapping portion of responses was in word-initial position, but we also replicated a recent observation that with ‘inconsistent’ overlap (shared syllables could be either in first or second word position), form overlap causes interference. Crucially, interference also occurred when phonologically unrelated filler trials or trials which required a nonlinguistic response were interleaved with the critical pictures. The same pattern was found with written responses and orthographic radical overlap. The results are best explained via “competitive incremental learning” between lexical and phonological representations. A computer simulation confirms that this principle generates interference, and that the result is unaffected by filler trials. We conclude that incremental learning constitutes a universal principle in the mapping from semantics to phonology in language production.
- word production
- incremental learning