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Native and Non-Native Processing of Morphologically Complex English Words: Testing the Influence of Derivational Prefixes
Kimberly M. Rehak and Alan Juffs
125-142 (complete paper or proceedings contents)

Abstract

This paper reports results of a replication and extension of Silva & Clahsen (2008), which used the masked priming paradigm (Forster & Davis, 1984) to measure differences in native and non-native processing of morphologically complex English words. Three groups of participants took part in these experiments: one native English speaker control group and advanced adult learners of English as a second language (L2) with Spanish or Mandarin Chinese as their first language (L1). These experiments compared the reaction times provided by lexical decision tasks to determine differences in the processing of five different morphemes: the regular past tense inflectional suffix -ed, the derivational suffixes -ness and -ity, and derivational prefixes un- and re-. The critical items in Silva & Clahsen (2008) were tested on a new L2 group (Spanish), and the experiments that tested the potential influence of derivational prefixes were new to this study. This experiment aimed to test Silva & Clahsen (2008)'s assertion that non-native speakers rely on the declarative memory system to process morphologically complex words and claim that L2 speakers process inflectional and derivational morphology differently. The results of this study were inconsistent with Silva & Clahsen (2008) for two of the affixes tested: the inflectional -ed and the derivational suffix -ity. The Spanish L2 participants in this study exhibited full priming effects for the inflectional -ed suffix and provided significantly faster reaction times for the derivational suffix -ity than the Mandarin Chinese L2 group. Since -ity is a Latinate suffix and Spanish is a Latin language, we believe our Spanish L2 participants are transferring knowledge of L1 morphology when processing morphologically complex words in their L2, which Silva & Clahsen (2008) claim is not a factor in second language processing.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 2010 Second Language Research Forum: Reconsidering SLA Research, Dimensions, and Directions
edited by Gisela Granena, Joel Koeth, Sunyoung Lee-Ellis, Anna Lukyanchenko, Goretti Prieto Botana, and Elizabeth Rhoades
Table of contents
Printed edition: $260.00