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Jimena Aza Guerrero

Psycholinguistics
PhD. Irasema Mora Pablo
The Role of Inner Speech
This paper reports the results of a research project done on word rehearsal processes.
Twelve subjects were exposed to two lists of words and were asked to remember them and
write them down. The paper analyzes two things: the primacy effect in recalling items and
the effect of phonological similarity upon the processes of rehearsal in both visual and
auditory processing. Firstly, I will present the literature review. Secondly, the methodology
followed to apply the test, to select the words and to analyze the data, thirdly the analysis
and the discussion of them. Finally, I will present the conclusion and the proposal of further
research.
Literature review
This paper analyzes the role of inner speech in reading.
When we read, there are two processes occurring: lower level processes and higher level
processes. The first one refers to the process of decoding each word by observing it and
recalling its meaning. The second one is about understanding the whole meaning of a text
with all the words connected (Field, 2003). For this research project, we are looking at the
lower level processes, that is, individuals reading words and remembering them.
Psycholinguists are interested in knowing if individuals storage the information they read in
a visual or in a spoken form, and here is when we realize about inner speech. Inner speech
is that voice in our minds which reproduces a spoken representation of the words we read,
and after reading each word, the information is storaged in the mind phonologically.
Another role of inner speech is to act as a subvocal rehearsal mechanism which helps to
decode meanings when there is lack of understanding while reading (Abramson &
Goldinger, 1997; De Guerrero, 2006; Ehrich, 2006; Field, 2003; Ridgway, 2009).
Due to this, two statements are made:
1. Spoken information in memory is more durable than visual.
2. If we store words in spoken form, they are less likely to interfere with the visual
process of decoding words on the page (Field, 2003, p.29).
Thus, what this research project aims to confirm is that phonological storage of information
tend to be recalled easier and that both visual processing and auditory processing are
subject to phonological rehearsal.
Methodology
To collect the data for this research, we did two tests to twelve subjects. In the first test, six
subjects were asked to listen to two lists of words each and to write as many words as they
could recall once the list was over. They were asked to write them in the order in which the
words were uttered. The first list consisted of monosyllabic words and the second of
semantically related words. The list of words and their selection can be found below. In the
second test, six different subjects were asked to do the same thing, except that in this
experiment, instead of listening to the words, they had to read them.
The experiment aims to answer three questions:
1.- Is there a primacy or a recency effect?
2.- What is the effect of phonological similarity upon the process of rehearsal with the
spoken items?
3.- Are the results for visual processing similar to those for auditory processing? Does this
support the idea that both are subject to phonological rehearsal.
Task preparation
To prepare this task we divided the two tasks into the two members. My classmate did the
visual task, and I applied the aural one. Both experiments were done at our workplaces to
students and coworkers. The subjects are males and females from 17 to 42 years. The
subjects were first gathered, then they were given the instructions and finally they
proceeded to write the words. In the aural task the words were read, and in the visual one,
the words were displayed in a computer screen.
Words selection
Monosyllabic list
For the monosyllabic list, words which finished with as sound. To do that, we searched
for all the possible combinations and we chose the words that actually exist.
The words were: Ras, paz, as, faz, das, gas, jazz, las, vas, ms.
The order of the words was selected randomly.
Semantic list
For the second list we selected words related to romantic relationships. The words were
all nouns and they had a length of three syllables. Many of them rhymed. Nevertheless, we
used two different lists with similar words but displayed in a different order.
The words were:

List 1: cancin, emocin, corazn, anterior, relacin, trovador, intencin, peticin,
perdicin, ilusin.
List 2: Cancin, sensacin, corazn, ilusin, perdicin, emocin, trovador, relacin,
desilusin, peticin.
The order of the words was also selected randomly.
Subjects selection
The subjects were students and coworkers at our workplaces. The subjects were between
seventeen and forty two years. Four of them were male subjects and the other four were
female subjects.


Listening
task
Age
Gender
Male Female
22 20
33 22
25
27


Reading
task
Age
Gender
Male Female
23 17
42 24
32
34
Analysis of results:
To analyze the results, I used two methods. In the first method I tabulated the number of
subjects who recalled each word. Then, I calculated percentages and looked for the highest
scores to draw conclusions. The first method was used to count the number of words
recalled to see which of the two tasks helped them remember more: the aural or the visual.
The second method was to see the order in which they recalled the words. To do that, I
divided the ten words into four groups and I colored each group with a different color (see
appendix). Then, I put the lists together in order to be able to observe patterns in the colors,
and thus find if they followed or not the original arrangement of the words.
Results
Listening

Reading
monosyllabic semantic

monosyllabic semantic
word recalled % word recalled %

word recalled % word recalled %
1 6 100.0 1 5 83.3

1 4 66.7 1 2 33.3
2 3 50.0 2 5 83.3

2 0 0.0 2 5 83.3
3 4 66.7 3 1 16.7

3 3 50.0 3 4 66.7
4 1 16.7 4 0.5 8.3

4 2 33.3 4 2 33.3
5 1 16.7 5 4 66.7

5 0 0.0 5 4 66.7
6 5 83.3 6 4 66.7

6 1 16.7 6 6 100.0
7 2 33.3 7 3 50.0

7 3 50.0 7 2 33.3
8 3 50.0 8 2.5 41.7

8 1 16.7 8 1 16.7
9 1 16.7 9 4 66.7

9 2 33.3 9 2 33.3
10 2 33.3 10 3 50.0

10 1 16.7 10 2 33.3
Total 28

Total 32

Total 17

Total 30

Analysis of results
1.- Is there a primacy or a recency effect?
Monosyllabic words
Monosyllabic words were recalled in different orders. Three subjects in the listening task
wrote it correctly, and two of the reading task.
Here, the results show that it was easier for the students in the listening task to rememeber
the words.
Large words
By looking at the colored charts it becomes evident that a primacy effect was present. The
first three words, which I marked in blue, were recalled first.
In the case of the listened words, 100% of the subjects remembered the first word and
wrote it first, that is, in the correct order. In the read words, only 4 subjects put the first
word correctly. The other two did not even mention it. This means that the visual stimulus
was weaker than the aural one.
The second word was recalled by 50% of the subjects in the listening task, and 0% in the
visual one. The third word was written by 4 of the subjects listening and by 3 of the
subjects reading.
Moreover, two of the subjects wrote the first three words in the correct order for the
listening task, which did not happen in the visual experiment.
In the case of the long words, the theory is confirmed again: words that were listened were
more easily remembered than those which were read (Field, 2003).

2.- What is the effect of phonological similarity upon the process of rehearsal with the
spoken items?
Every word that was listened was recalled at least by one subject, that is, the ten
monosyllabic words and the then semantic related words were remembered. In contrast, not
all the words the subjects read were recalled. Two monosyllabic words where not
remembered by anyone.
The words which were listened were recalled in 100% at least once. Each word was
reported at least by one participant. However, in the reading task not all the words were
remembered. The words which the students read were recalled in a 100% the long words,
but only 80% of the words were recalled by at least one participant. This confirms that
spoken information is memory is more durable than visual (Field, 2003, p.29).

3.- Are the results for visual processing similar to those for auditory processing? Does this
support the idea that both are subject to phonological rehearsal.
In the visual list occurred an interesting phenomenon that relates to the influence of inner
speech. In the monosyllabic list, four of the six participants wrote the words with incorrect
orthography. The words they misspelled were: as/az/haz, raz/ras, las/laz, gas/gaz,
vas/vaz/baz, ms/maz.
These words are frequent in Spanish; we easily find the majority of them in everyday texts.
Nevertheless, they wrote those words with a final letter z. Those words with z do not
even exist, and I consider they look meaningless when one reads them.
One reason they did this could be that their inner speech appeared while they were reading
the words. In order to remember them, they created a phonological representation of the
words in their minds, and then they reproduced them phonologically in the paper. Since all
the final sounds were pronounced as as, they knew every word they had to write would
need to finish with letters that would represent that sound. Some of the words actually
ended in z, and this visual stimulus created confusion in their memory.
They also included some words that were not in the list such as zaz and haz. Again,
these words follow the phonological pattern they formed in their minds.
It becomes evident that they storaged the words phonologically because they shown being
able to remember the pronunciation of the words but not their spelling.
It also means that the words did not have any semantic meaning for the subjects, they just
captured the words as strings of sounds.
In the case of monosyllabic unrelated words, the experiment demonstrated that we do not
storage words in memory visually, but rather aurally.
Conclusion
The results obtained in the research project confirmed two things. The first was that the
subjects who heard the words were more likely to remember more of the words. The second
was that visual and auditory processing are linked to phonological rehearsal; the z in the
words for the visual task confirm that the subjects were not memorizing the words in their
visual representation, but rather they created an aural representation for the words.
Further research could be done on the reading process for Mexican second language
learners of Japanese. Japanese uses a complete different writing system and it would be
interesting to see how learners interact with it.













Appendix
Monosyllabic words listening
List Female 20 Female 22 Female 25 Female 27 Male 22 Male 33
Ras
Paz
as
faz
das
gas
jazz
las
vas
mas

Fast
Last
Ras
vas
Ras
Pas
Jazz
Mas
Das
Las
Bas
Ras
Gas
Das
Ms
Paz
Das
Jaz
Mas
Gas
Ras
Pas
As
Gas
Jaz
Las
Vas
Ras
Gas
Pas
Das
Vas
Tras
Monosyllabic words reading
Large words listening
List Female 17 Female 24 Female 32 Female 34 Male 23 Male 42
Ras
Paz
As
Faz
Das
Gas
Jazz
Las
Vas
mas

Jazz
Gas
Fas
Mas
Paz
Jazz
Gas
As
Faz
das
Paz
Das
Gas
Haz
as
Raz
Paz
Laz
Gaz
vaz
Paz
Das
Az
Gaz
Raz
Paz
Baz
Gas
Ms
Das
Zaz
Haz
Maz
Original
words
Female 20 Female 22 Female 25 Female 27 Male 22 Male 33
Cancin
emocin
corazn
anterior
relacin
trovador
intencin
peticin
perdicin
ilusin

Cancin
Corazn
Relacin
Peticin
Trovador
Cancin
Emocin
Corazn
Trovador
Prediccin
Bendicin
Cancin
Emocin
Corazn
Desesperan
Trovador
Traicin
Intencin
Ilusin
Cancin
Provador
Perdicin
Trovador
Tradicin
amor
Cancin
Intencin
Peticin
Trovador
Anterior
Corazn
Cancin
Emocin
Ilusin
Peticin
Tradicin

Large words reading
List Female 17 Female 24 Female 32 Female 34 Male 23 Male 42
Cancin,
Sensacin,
Corazn,
Ilusin,
Perdicin,
Emocin,
Trovador,
Relacin,
Desilusin,
Peticin
Corazn
Ilucin
Preimicion
Cancin
Relacin
Trovador
Desiluasin
corazn
Cancin
Emocin
Premonicin
oracin
Corazn
Ilusin
trovador
Cancin
Peticin
sancin
Cancin
Relacin
Trovador
Romance
desilusin

Group work:
In this project I worked with Carolina. Each of us did one experiment. She made the
reading experiment and I did the listening one. We shared the results.

















References
Abramson, M., & Goldinge, S. (1997). What the reader's eye tells the mind's ear: Silent
reading activates inner speech. Perception & Psychophysics, 59(7), 1059-1068.
Ehrich, J. F. (2006). Vygotskian Inner Speech and the Reading Process. Australian Journal
of Educational & Developmental Psychology, 6, 12-25.
Field, J. (2003). Psycholinguistics: A resource book for students. London: Routledge.
Guerrero, M. C. (2006). Inner speech--L2: Thinking words in a second language. New
York: Springer.
Ridgway, A. J. (2009). The inner voice. International Journal of English Studies, 9(2), 45-
58.