Early morphological decomposition of suffixed words: Masked-priming evidence with transposed-letter nonword primes

Applied Psycholinguistics, 34(5), 869–892. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716412000057


Many studies have previously reported that the recognition of a stem target (e.g., teach) is facilitated by the prior masked presentation of a prime consisting of a derived form of it (e.g., teacher). We conducted two lexical decision experiments to investigate masked morphological priming in Spanish. Experiment 1 showed that equal magnitudes of masked stem-target priming are obtained for both morphologically complex word primes (e.g., doloroso-DOLOR [painful-PAIN]) and morphologically complex nonword primes that included letter transpositions within the stem (e.g., dlooroso-DOLOR). Experiment 2 used morphologically complex nonword primes comprising lexically illegal combinations of stems and suffixes (e.g., total + ito [a little total]). Priming was obtained for morphologically related nonword primes (e.g., totalito-TOTAL), but not for nonword primes that included letter transpositions within the pseudostem (e.g., ttoalito-TOTAL). Our data suggest that morphoorthographic parsing mechanisms benefit from semantic constraints at early stages in the reading system, which we discuss in the context of current morphological processing accounts.

Applied Psycholinguistics, 34(5), 869–892