Fast morphological effects in first and second language word recognition

Kevin Diependaele*, Jon Andoni Dunabeitia, Joanna Morris, Emmanuel Keuleers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


In three experiments we compared the performance of native English speakers to that of Spanish-English and Dutch-English bilinguals on a masked morphological priming lexical decision task. The results do not show significant differences across the three experiments. In line with recent meta-analyses, we observed a graded pattern of facilitation across stem priming with transparent suffixed primes (e.g., viewer-view), opaque suffixed or pseudo-suffixed primes (e.g., corner-corn) and form control primes (e.g., freeze-free). Priming was largest in the transparent condition, smallest in the form condition and intermediate in the opaque condition. Our data confirm the hypothesis that bilinguals largely adopt the same processing strategies as native speakers (e.g., Lemhofer et al., 2008), and constrain the hypothesis that bilinguals rely more heavily on whole-word processing in their second language (Clahsen, Felser, Neubauer, Sato, & Silva, 2010; Ullman, 2004, 2005). The observed pattern of morphological priming is in line with earlier monolingual studies, further highlighting the reality of semantic transparency effects in the initial stages of word recognition. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-358
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Morphological processing
  • Bilingual word recognition
  • Masked priming
  • Semantic transparency


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