Root-letter priming in Maltese visual word recognition

Jonathan A. Geary, Adam P Ussishkin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

We report on a visual masked priming experiment designed to explore the role of morphology in Maltese visual word recognition. In a lexical decision task, subjects were faster to judge Maltese words of Semitic origin that were primed by triconsonantal letter-strings corresponding to their rootmorphemes. In contrast, they were no faster to judge Maltese words of non- Semitic origin that were primed by an equivalent, but non-morphemic, set of three consonant letters, suggesting that morphological overlap, rather than simple form overlap, drives this facilitatory effect. Maltese is unique among the Semitic languages for its orthography: Maltese alone uses the Latin alphabet and requires that all vowels are written, making such triconsonantal strings illegal non-words to which Maltese readers are never exposed, as opposed to other Semitic languages such as Hebrew in which triconsonantal strings often correspond to real words. Under a decomposition-based account of morphological processing, we interpret these results as suggesting that across reading experience Maltese readers have abstracted out and stored root-morphemes for Semitic-origin words lexically, such that these morphemic representations can be activated by exposure to rootletters in isolation and thus prime morphological derivatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalMental Lexicon
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Fingerprint

Maltese
Language
Reading
orthography
language
Priming
Letters
Visual Word Recognition
social isolation
Strings
experiment
Drive
Overlap
Reader
Semitic Languages

Keywords

  • Lexical access
  • Maltese
  • Root and pattern morphology
  • Semitic
  • Visual masked priming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Cite this

Root-letter priming in Maltese visual word recognition. / Geary, Jonathan A.; Ussishkin, Adam P.

In: Mental Lexicon, Vol. 13, No. 1, 01.01.2018, p. 1-25.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Geary, Jonathan A. ; Ussishkin, Adam P. / Root-letter priming in Maltese visual word recognition. In: Mental Lexicon. 2018 ; Vol. 13, No. 1. pp. 1-25.
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