Linguistics Colloquium: Chen Gafni

03/12/2019 - 14:00 - 15:30

Chen Gafni, Bar Ilan University

Title: Aspects of morphological processing


In this talk, I will present two experiments aiming to investigate morphological processing of written and spoken Hebrew words.

The main goals of Experiment 1 were to study the time course of morphological decomposition of written words, and determine whether morphological decomposition is obligatory or task-dependent. Participants performed a lexical decision task and a same-different match task on root-derived Hebrew words (e.g., תחביב /taxbiv/ ‘hobby’) and pseudowords. The pseudowords were created from the real words by transposing either two letters of the consonantal root (e.g., תבחיב), or a letter belonging to the root and a letter belonging to the morphological pattern (e.g., תחיבב).

The results of the lexical decision task show that alterations of the morphological pattern were identified faster than alterations of the root, suggesting that the morphological pattern is recognized prior to root extraction. Such an effect was not observed in the same-different match task, suggesting that morphological processing is obligatory only in the service of lexical access.

The main goal of Experiment 2 was to investigate whether the same principles underlie morphological processing of written (visual) and spoken (auditory) words. Participants performed a lexical decision task on written and spoken, root-derived Hebrew words and pseudowords. Pseudowords contained either a real root (e.g., מפתרה; real root: פ.ת.ר) or an invented root (e.g., מפתגה; invented root: פ.ת.ג).

Across both visual and auditory modalities, lexical decision responses were slower and less accurate for real-root pseudowords than for invented-root pseudowords. Moreover, the visual and auditory effects were significantly correlated, suggesting that they capture a general, amodal sensitivity to morphological structure. At the same time, the visual effect was consistently and significantly larger than the auditory effect at the individual level. This finding suggests that morphological processing has a modality-specific aspect, as well.


The results of the two experiments will be discussed in relation to theories of visual and auditory word recognition.

Place: Building 403 room 2
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