Memory for affixes in a long-lag priming paradigm

Phoebe Gaston, Linnaea Stockall, Sarah Van Wagenen, Alec Marantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Psycholinguistic research on the processing of morphologically complex words has largely focused on debates about how/if lexical stems are recognized, stored, and retrieved. Comparatively little processing research has investigated similar issues for functional affixes. In Word or Lexeme Based Morphology (Aronoff 1994), affixes are not representational units on par with stems or roots. This view is in stark contrast to the claims of linguistic theories like Distributed Morphology (Halle & Marantz 1993), which assign rich representational content to affixes. We conducted a series of eight visual lexical decision studies, evaluating effects of derivational affix priming along with stem priming, identity priming, form priming, and semantic priming at long and short lags. We find robust and consistent affix priming (but not semantic or form priming) with lags up to 33 items, supporting the position that affixes are morphemes, i.e., representational units on par with stems. Intriguingly, we find only weaker evidence for the long-lag stem priming effect found in other studies. We interpret this potential asymmetry in terms of the salience of different morphological contexts for recollection memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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