Morphological Decomposition: Deboosting affixes


21st conference of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology, Tenerife, Spain, September 25-28, 2019


September, 2019


Mara De Rosa & Davide Crepaldi

Words can be decomposed into smaller meaningful units, known as morphemes (e.g., BUILD–ER). Available data suggest this to happen in rightfully complex words (e.g., deal-er), pseudo-complex words (e.g., corn-er), and also when the stimulus is a nonword composed of a real stem and a real affix (e.g., chair-er). On the contrary, the absence of an affix (e.g., cash-ew) seems to result in a lack of decomposition. Are affixes necessary to trigger morphological analysis? We addressed this question in two masked priming experiments comparing different levels of morphological complexity across words and nonwords. Our results suggest that affixes might not be necessary for triggering morphological processing. We also assessed the role of word endings’ frequency, and found that this doesn’t impact masked morphological priming.