Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Processing of Spanish Preterite Regular and Irregular Verbs: The Role of Neighborhood Density

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Processing of Spanish Preterite Regular and Irregular Verbs: The Role of Neighborhood Density

Article excerpt

Research into lexical processes shows that frequency and phonological similarity (neighborhood density) affect word processing and retrieval. Previous studies on inflectional morphology have examined the influence of frequency of occurrence in speech production on the inflectional verb paradigm in English. Limited work has been done to examine the influence of phonological similarity in languages with a more complex morphological system than English. The present study examined the influence of neighborhood density on the processing of Spanish Preterite regular and irregular verbs as produced by thirty native speakers of Spanish. The results of a naming task showed that regular verbs were processed faster and more accurately than irregular ones. Similar to what has been observed in English, a facilitative effect of neighborhood density for -ir verbs was observed in both regular and irregular verbs, such that -ir verbs with dense neighborhoods were produced faster and more accurately than -ir verbs with sparse neighborhoods. However, no neighborhood density effects were observed for -ar verbs (regular and irregular) in reaction times and accuracy rates. Thus, the activation of a specific -ir verb was facilitated by similar sounding verbs regardless of being regular and irregular. Implications for models of morphology language processing are discussed.

Keywords: neighborhood density, language processing, Spanish.

De acuerdo a investigación llevada a cabo en torno a procesos léxicos, la frecuencia y la similitud fonológica (vecindario de densidad) afectan al acceso y procesamiento de palabras. Estudios previos sobre morfología flexiva han examinado la influencia de la frecuencia de aparición en actos de producción de habla en el paradigma verbal flexivo del inglés. No existen muchos estudios que examinen la influencia de la similitud fonológica en lenguas con un sistema morfológico más complejo que el que presenta el inglés. En este estudio se ha examinado la influencia de la densidad de vecindario en el procesamiento de verbos regulares e irregulares del español en formas de pretérito por parte de treinta nativo hablantes del español. Los resultados en una tarea de naming mostraron que los verbos regulares se procesaron más rápida y correctamente que los irregulares. Al igual que se ha observado en el inglés, se ha encontrado un efecto facilitador de densidad de vecindario en el caso de los verbos -ir, tanto en sus formas regulares como irregulares, de tal forma que los verbos -ir pertenecientes a un vecindario denso se produjeron más rápida y correctamente que los verbos - ir en vecindarios ermitaños. No obstante, no se han observado efectos de vecindario léxico en los verbos -ar (regulares e irregulares) en cuanto a tiempos de reacción e indices de precisión. Así pues, verbos similares en pronunciación facilitaron la activación de un verbo -ir específico independientemente si el verbo era regular o irregular. Se plantean implicaciones en los modelos de procesamiento morfológico.

Palabras clave: densidad de vecindario, procesamiento del lenguaje, español.

How do we learn and process inflectional morphology? How do we transform the phonological form of a verb into its inflected form? These questions have attracted particularly contentious consideration over the past twenty years. The controversy raised a debate that applies to many aspects of language processing but has been expressed with specific reference to past-tense English verb processing. The debate refers to the existence of two competing theories found in the literature that try to address the question of how inflected word forms are mentally represented and processed, namely, dual-system and single-system theories. From the connectionist model approach initiated by Rumelhart and McClelland (1986) followed by a critique by Pinker and Prince (1988), many articles have been published to account for regular and irregular verbs in English primarily. …

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