It has been proposed that function words such as for and on conceal their letters because their higher familiarity allows fast access to their unitized representations. However, in this study we show that letter detection in function words varies with their linguistic role in text. When such words were embedded in a phrase where they were forced into a content role by the surrounding context (e.g., for or against or on switch), letter detection improved markedly and did not differ from that of matched content words. The result was replicated when the context preceding the function word and the overall sentential meaning were equated for both function and content usages. The results support a late-stage structural account of the function-disadvantage effect, where the syntactic units that support the structural frame of a sentence are lost in the transition from structure to meaning.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition|
|State||Published - Nov 1991|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Language and Linguistics
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Linguistics and Language