Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 67–88 | Cite as

Phonological Constraints on the Assembly of Skeletal Structure in Reading



Linguistic research suggests that certain skeletal frames (e.g., CVC) are preferred to others (e.g., VCC). We examine whether such preferences constrain reading in the Stroop task. We demonstrate that CCVC nonwords facilitate naming the color black (\({{\rm /bl{\ae}k}}\)/, a CCVC frame) relative to CVC controls. Conversely, CCVC items inhibit red (a CVC frame) relative to CVC controls. These results suggest that readers are sensitive to the congruency between the skeletal structure of color names and printed nonwords. However, various frames are not all equally preferred: the color black is named faster with a VCC frame, an infrequent and ill-formed frame, relative to a CVC frame, a frequent and grammatically preferred frame. These findings suggest that the representation of printed words specifies distinct slots for consonants and vowels, and readers are equipped with preferences (either grammatical or statistical) concerning skeletal frames. These conclusions underscore the contribution of linguistic knowledge to skilled reading.


Skeleton Frames Markedness Phonology Reading Optimality theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA

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