Christina L. Gagné Thomas L. Spalding

Typing time as an index of morphological and semantic effects during English compound processing

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Despite centrality semantics language processing, psycholinguistic research has not yet revealed exactly how languageusers make use of morphological structure, nor the exact impact of semantic transparency. In two experiments, weassessed whether manipulating the availability of the first constituent of an English compound influences the production of the compound (as measured by inter-letter typing speed), and, if so, whether this influence depends on the semantic transparency of the first and second constituents. Each compound was preceded by a brief presentation of a word(i.e., aprime) that was semantically related or unrelated to the compound's first constituent. Afterrecognizingtheword, participants typed the word as the computer recorded theinter-letter typing speed as a measure of ease of written production. The results revealed effects of morphemic structure and of semantic transparency. Typing times we reelevated at the morphemeboundary. In addition, the related prime aided the production of compounds with transparent heads, but did not affect production of compounds with opaque heads. Finally, the data indicate that the influence of the prime changed across trials, which indicates that the processing system is highly adaptive.


  • Compounds
  • Language Production
  • Morphology
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Semantic Transparency


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