Syllable Structure in Speech Production: Are Syllables Chunks or Schemas?

Christine A. Sevald, Gary S. Dell, Jennifer S. Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Theories of speech production hold divergent views of the syllable. Some theories do not use syllables at all. Those that do differ on whether syllables are chunks that specify their phonological content or schemas that specify an abstract structure (e.g. consonant-vowel-consonant). In three experiments, speakers were asked to repeat pairs of phonological words as often as possible in a 4-s period. Speech rate was faster when both the structure and content of the first phonological word were repeated in the first syllable of the second one, compared to a condition in which all or most of the sounds were repeated but the structure was not. There was no additional advantage for repeating both content and structure over repeating structure alone. The results support the view that syllable structure is separable from phonemic content and are consistent with a view of syllables as abstract schemas, not chunks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)807-820
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


Dive into the research topics of 'Syllable Structure in Speech Production: Are Syllables Chunks or Schemas?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this