This study investigates the processing of resyllabified words by native English speakers at three proficiency levels in French and by native French speakers. In particular, it examines non-native listeners’ development of a parsing procedure for recognizing vowel-initial words in the context of liaison, a process that creates a misalignment of the syllable and word boundaries in French. The participants completed an eye-tracking experiment in which they identified liaison- and consonant-initial real and nonce words in auditory stimuli. The results show that the non-native listeners had little difficulty recognizing liaison-initial real words, and they recognized liaison-initial nonce words more rapidly than consonant-initial ones. By contrast, native listeners recognized consonant-initial real and nonce words more rapidly than liaison-initial ones. These results suggest that native and non-native listeners used different parsing procedures for recognizing liaison-initial words in the task, with the non-native listeners’ ability to segment liaison-initial words being phonologically abstract rather than lexical.
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