A Reason to Rhyme: Phonological and Semantic Influences on Lexical Access

David N. Rapp*, Arthur G. Samuel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


During on-line language production, speakers rapidly select a sequence of words to express their desired meaning. The current study examines whether this lexical selection is also dependent on the existing activation of surface properties of the words. Such surface properties clearly matter in various forms of wordplay, including poetry and musical lyrics. The experiments in this article explore whether language processing more generally is sensitive to these properties. Two experiments examined the interaction between phonological and semantic features for written and verbal productions. In Experiment 1, participants were given printed sentences with a missing word, and were asked to generate reasonable completions. The completions reflected both the semantic and the surface features of the preceding context In Experiment 2, listeners heard sentence contexts, and were asked to rapidly produce a word to complete the utterance. These spontaneous completions again incorporated surface features activated by the context. The results suggest that lexical access in naturalistic language processing is influenced by an interaction between the surface and semantic features of language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)564-571
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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