Revision of an old handout from a presentation on my activities with respect to the SPAM lab

The SPAM Program

Mike Hammond

Dramatis Personae so far

Ruby Basham, Jeff Berry, Sonya Bird, Jordan (Brewer) Sandoval, Lynnika Butler, Allyson Carter, Tom Craig, Miriam Diaz, Emmanuel Dupoux, Laura Freebairn, Merrill Garrett, Jason Ginsburg, Mike Hammond, Kara Hawthorne, Rachel Hayes, Cathy Hicks, Sunjing Ji, Bob Kennedy, Kumi Kogure, Amy LaCross, Sue Lorenson, Andrea Massar, Lionel Mathieu, Diane Meador, Jacques Mehler, Diane Ohala, Lisa Shannon, Dan Siddiqi, Megan Stone, Jae-Hyun Sung, Ben Tucker, Gwanhi Yun, Tania Zamuner....

Goals so far

To determine the role of prosodic constructs like syllable, mora, and foot in psycholinguistic domains, principally perception, but also production, access, and grammar....

Most recently, the lab has been focusing on the roles of frequency, phonotactic probability, and typology/markedness in phonological well-formedness.

We are also part of a larger project doing various experimental investigations of Scottish Gaelic (and hopefully soon Welsh as well).

Principal techniques so far

Fragment detection

Subjects are presented a target string and press a button as fast as possible if the following word begins with that string. RTs are faster if the string is the first syllable of the word. (Cutler, Mehler, Norris, Segui)

Word spotting

Subjects are presented with nonsense words and press a button as fast as possible if the nonsense word begins with a real word. RTs are faster if the real word ends at an appropriate prosodic boundary in the nonsense word. (Cutler & Norris)

Various off-line tasks

Subjects are asked to provide conscious intuitions about the syllable structure of words or the applicability of various made-up games based on syllable structure. (Treiman et al.)

Subjects are asked to judge the wellformedness of nonsense words where the probabilities and neighborhood densities have been controlled in various ways. (Coleman & Pierrehumbert; Frisch et al.)


Subjects are presented with a target sound and press a button as fast as possible if the following word contains the sound. Subjects can be habituated to particular prosodic configurations. (Pitt & Samuels)


These are a little dated!

Coleman, J. & Pierrehumbert, J. (1997) "Stochastic phonological grammars and acceptability", in Computational Phonology: Third meeting of the ACL special interest group in computational phonology, Association for Computational Linguistics, 49-56.

Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (1988) "The role of strong syllables in segmentation for lexical access", Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 14, 113-121.

Cutler, A., Mehler, J., Norris, D., & Segui, J. (1983) "A language specific comprehension strategy", Nature 304, 159-160.

Cutler, A., Mehler, J., Norris, D., & Segui, J. (1986) "The syllable's differing role in the segmentation of French and English", Journal of Memory and Language 25, 385-400.

Derwing, B.L. (1992) "A 'pause-break' task for eliciting syllable boundary judgments from illiterate and illiterate speakers: preliminary results for five diverse languages", Language and Speech 35, 219-235.

Derwing, B.L., & Neary, T.M. (1992) "The 'vowel-stickiness' phenomenon: three experimental sources of evidence", Proceedings of the 12th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences 3, Aix-en-Provence, France.

Dupoux, E. & Hammond, M. (1994) "Syllabic effects in English: the role of vowel quality", ms., EHESS and U. of Arizona.

Dupoux, E., Hammond, M., Meador, D., & Ohala, D. (in preparation) "Some properties of the English metalinguistic syllable".

Frisch, S., Large, N. R., & Pisoni, D. B. (2000) "Perception of wordlikeness: effects of segment probability and length on the processing of nonwords", Journal of Memory and Langauge 42, 481-496.

Hammond, M. (1997) "Vowel quantity and syllabification in English", Language 73, 1-17.

Hammond, M. (1999) "Lexical frequency and rhythm", in M. Darnell et al., eds., Functionalism and Formalism in Linguistics, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, 329-358.

Hammond, M. (1999) English Phonology, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Hammond, M. and E. Dupoux (1996) "Psychophonology", in J. Durand and B. Laks, eds., Current Trends in Phonology: Models and Methods, volume 1, University of Salford Publications, 281-304.

Hammond M., N. Warner, A. Davis, A. Carnie, D. Archangeli, and M. Fisher (2014) "Vowel insertion in Scottish Gaelic", Phonology 31, 123–153.

Mehler, J., Dommergues, J.Y., Frauenfelder, U., & Segui, J. (1981) "The syllable's role in speech segmentation", Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 20, 298-305.

Pitt, M.A. & Samuel, A. G. (1990) "Attentional allocation during speech perception: how fine is the focus?", Journal of Memory and Language 29, 611-632.

Treiman, R. & Danis, C. (1988) "Syllabification of intervocalic consonants", Memory and Language 27, 87-104.

Treiman, R. & Zukowski, A. (1990) "Toward an understanding of English syllabification", Journal of Memory and Language 29, 66-85.

Treiman, R. (1983) "The structure of spoken syllables: Evidence from novel word games", Cognition 15, 49-74.