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The time-course of morphological constraints: a study of plurals inside derived words

Cunnings, I. and Clahsen, H. (2008) The time-course of morphological constraints: a study of plurals inside derived words. The Mental Lexicon, 3 (2). pp. 149-175. ISSN 1871-1340

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1075/ml.3.2.01cun

Abstract/Summary

The avoidance of regular but not irregular plurals inside compounds (e.g. *rats eater vs. mice eater) has been one of the most widely studied morphological phenomena in the psycholinguistics literature. To examine whether the constraints that are responsible for this contrast have any general significance beyond compounding, we investigated derived word forms containing regular and irregular plurals in two experiments. Experiment 1 was an offline acceptability judgment task, and experiment 2 measured eye movements during reading derived words containing regular and irregular plurals and uninflected base nouns. The results from both experiments show that the constraint against regular plurals inside compounds generalizes to derived words. We argue that this constraint cannot be reduced to phonological properties, but is instead morphological in nature. The eye-movement data provide detailed information on the time-course of processing derived word forms indicating that early stages of processing are affected by a general constraint that disallows inflected words from feeding derivational processes, and that the more specific constraint against regular plurals comes in at a subsequent later stage of processing. We argue that these results are consistent with stage-based models of language processing.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Language and Cognition
ID Code:34385
Publisher:John Benjamins Publishing Company

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