Taking the Book from the Bookshelf: Masked Constituent Priming Effects from Compound Words and Nonwords

authors

  • Beyersmann Elisabeth
  • Kezilas Yvette
  • Coltheart Max
  • Castles Anne
  • Ziegler Johannes C
  • Taft Marcus
  • Grainger Jonathan

keywords

  • Compound word processing
  • Embedded words
  • Masked priming
  • Lexical decision

document type

ART

abstract

Recent evidence from visual word recognition points to the important role of embedded words, suggesting that embedded words are activated independently of whether they are accompa-nied by an affix or a non-affix. The goal of the present research was to more closely examine the mechanisms involved in embedded word activation, particularly with respect to the “edge-alignedness” of the embedded word. We conducted two experiments that used masked priming in combination with lexical decision. In Experiment 1, monomorphemic target words were either preceded by a compound word prime (e.g., textbook-BOOK/textbook-TEXT), a compound-non-word prime (e.g., pilebook-BOOK/textpile-TEXT), a non-compound nonword prime (e.g., pimebook-BOOK/textpime-TEXT) or an unrelated prime (e.g., textjail-BOOK/jailbook-TEXT). The results revealed significant priming effects, not only in the compound word and compound-nonword conditions, but also in the non-compound nonword condition, suggesting that embedded words (e.g., book) were activated independently of whether they occurred in combination with a real morpheme (e.g., pilebook) or a non-morphemic constituent (e.g., pimebook). Priming in the com-pound word condition was greater than in the two nonword conditions, indicating that partici-pants benefited from the whole-word representation of real compound words. Constituent prim-ing occurred independently of whether the target word was the first or the second embedded constituent of the prime (e.g., textbook-BOOK vs. textbook-TEXT). In Experiment 2, significant priming effects were found for edge-aligned embedded constituents (e.g., pimebook-BOOK), but not for mid-embedded (e.g., pibookme-BOOK) or the outer-embedded constituents (e.g., bopimeok-BOOK), suggesting that edge-alignedness is a key factor determining the activation of embedded words.

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