The process of word segmentation is flexible, with many strategies potentially available to learners. This experiment explores how segmentation cues interact, and whether successful resolution of cue competition is related to general executive functioning. Participants listened to artificial speech streams that contained both statistical and pause-defined cues to word boundaries. When these cues 'collide' (indicating different locations for word boundaries), cue strength appears to dictate the predominant parsing strategy. When cues are relatively equal in strength, the ability to successfully deploy a segmentation strategy significantly correlates with stronger performance on the Simon task, a non-linguistic cognitive task typically thought to involve executive processes such as inhibitory control and selective attention. These results suggest that general information processing strategies may play a role in solving one of the early challenges for language learners.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language