The role of punctuation in implicit phonological processing during reading

Keiyu Niikuni, Toshiaki Muramoto, Yuko Fukaya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This study explored the phonological role of punctuation in silent reading. Previous studies have suggested that commas trigger prosodic information, such as a pause, in implicit phonological processing during reading, which influences sentence processing considerably. In this study, 24 graduate and undergraduate students read, either silently or under articulatory suppression, syntactically ambiguous Japanese sentences with different types of semantic bias. Each sentence was presented with or without a comma that was either compatible or incompatible with each semantic bias. The results showed that in the silent reading condition, commas affect the duration of sentence reading and that even a comma that was incompatible with the semantic bias increased the interpretation that each comma favored. However, in the articulatory suppressed condition these effects of commas disappeared. We concluded that commas phonologically affect the processing of syntactically ambiguous sentences, which indicates that commas elicit prosodic information when constructing phonological representations in reading.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-201
Number of pages9
JournalShinrigaku Kenkyu
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Aug


  • Implicit prosody
  • Punctuation
  • Sentence reading
  • Syntactically ambiguous sentences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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