A supralexical model for French derivational morphology


  • Giraudo Hélène
  • Grainger Jonathan

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Today there is a growing consensus in the psycholinguistic research community that morphological information plays a critical role in the highly automatized process of word recognition. At a linguistic level of analysis, morphology describes the word formation rules of a given language. A morphologically complex word, such as banker, represents the combination of at least two morphemes: the root bank and the suffix-er in the given example. As a consequence, from each root morpheme (e.g., bank) one can derive numerous morphologically complex words by adding another morpheme to the root (i.e.,-er,-ing,-s,-rupt… to form the words banker, banking, banks, bankrupt…etc.). From a linguistic point of view therefore, the accent is often placed on productivity when discussing the role of morphological information in language processing. Morphemic components (roots and affixes) can be used to create new word forms in production and to understand novel forms in comprehension. For example, someone who had never heard or read the word dimness before, but has knowledge of the root dim and the suffix-ness, could derive the meaning of the novel whole-word from the meaning and function of the component morphemes.

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