Idiomatic processing: Syntactic frozenness and subjective familiarity

Cynthia M. Connine, Dawn Blasko, Russell Brandt, Jody Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Four experiments are reported that investigated idiomatic processing. Two experiments collected subjects' ratings of frozenness, familiarity, and meaningfulness for a set of idioms. The ratings obtained were used to assess the contributions of these dimensions to performance in two experiments that utilized a phoneme-identification task. Ambiguous and unambiguous phoneme targets occurred as the initial sound in the final word in idiomatic and neutral carrier phrases. Subjects' phoneme identifications were biased in the labeling of ambiguous segments in that identification responses in the idiom context tended to form an idiomatic phrase, more so than those in the neutral carrier phrase. Additional correlational analyses suggested that an idiom's degree of influence on identification depended on the rated syntactic frozenness. For subjects who knew the idioms, familiarity did not account for the biasing effect of idiomatic contexts. The experiments are discussed in terms of theories of auditory word recognition and the representation of frozenness in the mental lexicon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-232
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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