Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Analogical Effects in Reading Dutch Verb Forms

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Analogical Effects in Reading Dutch Verb Forms

Article excerpt

Previous research has shown that the production of morphologically complex words in isolation is affected by the properties of morphologically, phonologically, or semantically similar words stored in the mental lexicon. We report five experiments with Dutch speakers that show that reading an inflectional word form in its linguistic context is also affected by analogical sets of formally similar words. Using the self-paced reading technique, we show in Experiments 1-3 that an incorrectly spelled suffix delays readers less if the incorrect spelling is in line with the spelling of verbal suffixes in other inflectional forms of the same verb. In Experiments 4 and 5, our use of the self-paced reading technique shows that formally similar words with different stems affect the reading of incorrect suffixal allomorphs on a given stem. These intra- and interparadigmatic effects in reading may be due to online processes or to the storage of incorrect forms resulting from analogical effects in production.

Many studies have shown that the mental lexicon not only contains representations for morphologically simple words and for morphologically complex words with unpredictable characteristics, but also for completely regular morphologically complex words, including inflections (see, e.g., Alegre & Gordon, 1999; Baayen, Dijkstra, & Schreuder, 1997; Baayen, McQueen, Dijkstra, & Schreuder, 2003; Bybee, 2000; Frisson & Sandra, 2002; Sandra, Frisson, & Daems, 1999; Stemberger & MacWhinney, 1986, 1988). Other studies (e.g., Ernestus & Baayen, 2003, 2004; Krott, 2001; Krott, Baayen, & Schreuder, 2001; Skousen, 1989) have shown that these stored words and word forms may affect each other's production as well as the formation of new morphologically complex forms. For instance, Krott and colleagues (Krott, 2001; Krott et al., 2001) showed that the probability and the speed with which a speaker of Dutch chooses a given interfix for a new compound highly correlates with the frequency of the interfix among the existing compounds with the same initial constituent as the new compound. If the initial constituent is followed by a certain interfix in many existing compounds, speakers often choose this interfix, and when they do so, they react fast. Thus, the Dutch noun macht "power" is followed by the interfix 5 in 71 out of 78 existing compounds (CELEX; Baayen, Piepenbrock, & Gulikers, 1995), and most speakers of Dutch tend to create the new compound machtswoede out of macht "power" and woede "anger" by means of the interfix s. Moreover, when they do so, they are faster than when they choose to use another interfix or none at all. The studies on analogical effects have concentrated on the production of word forms in isolation. In the present study, we investigated whether analogical effects may also arise in comprehension, even when the words are presented in meaningful linguistic contexts.

During comprehension, language users may retrieve morphologically complex forms as complete units from the mental lexicon, or they may retrieve the morphemes of these words as separate units. The retrieval process may activate not only the forms themselves or their components, but also morphological, phonological, semantic, and orthographic neighbors, as has been shown, for instance, by Pisoni, Nusbaum, Luce, and Slowiaczek (1985) and Schreuder and Baayen (1997). It is not inconceivable that the coactivated neighbors affect comprehension, and therefore that analogical effects arise in word comprehension.

Analogical effects may arise in experimental settings especially when word forms are presented outside their linguistic contexts and participants are requested to react as fast as possible. If participants cannot prepare the word forms on the basis of the preceding linguistic context, but they nevertheless have to react quickly, they may take advantage of relations between word forms stored in their mental lexicon that they would not rely on under normal circumstances. …

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