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The Recognition of Prefixed Words by Advanced Learners of Italian L2: A First Survey on Frequency Effect
Serena Dal Maso
156-165 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This paper presents a preliminary survey on the acquisition of derivational morphology in Italian L2 and aims to give an initial insight into the role played by morphemic frequency on the recognition of the internal structure of prefixed lexemes and on the identification of their global meaning by (very) advanced learners. Data on prefixed words have been elicited through the use of a questionnaire containing 62 prefixed words, whose meanings the subjects have been asked to explain. The survey considered 11 spontaneous learners with different L1s and with an advanced or near-native competence of Italian L2. Results confirmed the frequency-effect of the derivative word but revealed a less clear frequency-effect of the base. These data, however, have not been interpreted as the evidence of the learners' unawareness of the L2 word structure, since their productions clearly reveal the attempt to identify the morphological constituents of the derivative. One of the reasons for the limited frequency effect of the base is that advanced learners fail to recognize even high-frequency bases because of persisting difficulties in segmenting the L2 input and in discriminating between lexical forms competing due to phonological similarity. The study suggests that analyses of phonological-morphological interface can usefully integrate the quantitative approach in order to describe the development of a L2 morphological competence.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 6th Décembrettes: Morphology in Bordeaux
edited by Fabio Montermini, Gilles Boyé, and Jesse Tseng
Table of contents
Printed edition: $190.00