Morphological priming in Turkish nominal compound processing

Özer, Sibel
Compounding, constructing new words out of previously known words by means of simple concatenation mostly, can be counted as one of the major word production mechanisms in the majority of languages. Their importance in the history of human languages warrants a detailed study with respect to the language faculty and related cognitive aspects. In the last decade, compound production as well as comprehension have become highly debated and investigated areas of research. Morphological priming is one frequently employed paradigm for the investigation of compounding. Whether morphologically complex words undergo a decomposition-composition process, respectively, during comprehension and production or whether they are all listed in full form in the lexicon is one key question hitherto addressed in several studies related to English, German, Dutch and Chinese nominal compound words. The present study is concerned with compound production in Turkish. Various types of Turkish compounds were investigated ((i) bare JCs (‗akbalık‘, ‗dace‘), (ii) indefinite (‗dil balığı‘, ‗flounder‘) and (iii) definite (‗gölün balığı‘, ‗fish of the lake‘) izafet constructions) in a morphological priming paradigm by means of a picture naming task. In the general implementation of this task, subjects name black-white line drawings of simple objects in a limited and pre-specified time-interval while at the same time, they have to ignore distractor words which are presented visually(or auditorily). The locus of interest in this paradigm is the evaluation of possible linguistic effects of the distractor word presentation on picture naming performance. In this study, distractor words were Turkish nominal compounds and picture names(e.g., ‗balık‘, ‗fish‘) were morphologically related (depicted either first or second part of the compound) or completely unrelated to these distractor words. Results of the experiment revealed equal amounts of morphological priming effect in all compound types investigated, that is, morphologically related compounds led to shorter naming latencies compared to unrelated distractors, a result which is in line with the decompositional view of compound processing. Furthermore, significant animacy effect found on naming latencies irrespective of the compound type, underlines another possible essential factor in compound processing. Finally, distractor-wise analysis revealed marginally significant reaction time advantages for the head part of the compound as compared to the modifier part, a finding which suggests a possible special role for the head constituent during lexical access.
Citation Formats
S. Özer, “Morphological priming in Turkish nominal compound processing,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2010.