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A group of symbols representing syllables of a spoken language and used to write that language, e.g. the Japanese 'katakana'.

The term syllabary is used in a different sense in theories of speech production where it is assumed that there is a library of articulatory routines that is accessed during the process of speech production. Levelt and Wheeldon (1994) have developed this idea into a so-called mental syllabary. Syllables are taken to be the basic units of articulatory programming, and sylable-sized articulatory routines are stored in the mental syllabary. The advantage of a mental syllabary is that the computational load of the articulatory programmer during speech production is reduced. Syllables whose articulatory programs (routines) are not stored in the mental lexicon are computed on-line.

See also



  • Levelt, W.J.M. & Wheeldon, L. 1994. Do speakers have a mental syllabary?, Cognition, 50, 239-269
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