A tale of two frequencies: Determining the speed of lexical access for Mandarin Chinese and English compounds


  • Janssen Niels
  • Bi Yanchao
  • Caramazza Alfonso

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Two Picture naming experiments show that compound word production in Mandarin Chinese and in English is determined by the compound's whole-word frequency, and not by its constituent morpheme frequency. Four control experiments rule out that these results are caused by recognition or articulatory processes. These results are consistent with models of lexical access that assume compounds arc stored in their full-form and that frequency affects the retrieval of whole words. The present results corroborate the results from previous V studies that have investigated compound word production in Mandarin Chinese, but also differ from those previously reported on compound word production in Dutch. The possibility that this inconsistency arises due to cross-linguistic, or task differences is discussed.

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