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      Sensitivity to Inflectional Morphemes in the Absence of Meaning: Evidence from a Novel Task

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          Abstract

          A number of studies in different languages have shown that speakers may be sensitive to the presence of inflectional morphology in the absence of verb meaning (Caramazza et al. in Cognition 28(3):297–332, 1988; Clahsen in Behav Brain Sci 22(06):991–1013, 1999; Post et al. in Cognition 109(1):1–17, 2008). In this study, sensitivity to inflectional morphemes was tested in a purposely developed task with English-like nonwords. Native speakers of English were presented with pairs of nonwords and were asked to judge whether the two nonwords in each pair were the same or different. Each pair was composed either of the same nonword repeated twice, or of two slightly different nonwords. The nonwords were created taking advantage of a specific morphophonological property of English, which is that regular inflectional morphemes agree in voicing with the ending of the stem. Using stems ending in /l/, thus, we created: (1) nonwords ending in potential inflectional morphemes, vɔld, (2) nonwords without inflectional morphemes, vɔlt, and (3) a phonological control condition, vɔlb. Our new task endorses some strengths presented in previous work. As in Post et al. ( 2008) the task accounts for the importance of phonological cues to morphological processing. In addition, as in Caramazza et al. ( 1988) and contrary to Post et al. ( 2008), the task never presents bare-stems, making it unlikely that the participants would be aware of the manipulation performed. Our results are in line with Caramazza et al. ( 1988), Clahsen ( 1999) and Post et al. ( 2008), and offer further evidence that morphologically inflected nonwords take longer to be discriminated compared to uninflected nonwords.

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          Most cited references 29

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          Towards a neural basis of auditory sentence processing.

          Functional dissociations within the neural basis of auditory sentence processing are difficult to specify because phonological, syntactic and semantic information are all involved when sentences are perceived. In this review I argue that sentence processing is supported by a temporo-frontal network. Within this network, temporal regions subserve aspects of identification and frontal regions the building of syntactic and semantic relations. Temporal analyses of brain activation within this network support syntax-first models because they reveal that building of syntactic structure precedes semantic processes and that these interact only during a later stage.
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            Rules of language

             S Pinker (1991)
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              Lexical access and inflectional morphology.

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                lc683@cam.ac.uk
                Journal
                J Psycholinguist Res
                J Psycholinguist Res
                Journal of Psycholinguistic Research
                Springer US (New York )
                0090-6905
                1573-6555
                21 February 2019
                21 February 2019
                2019
                : 48
                : 3
                : 747-767
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1937 116X, GRID grid.4491.8, Faculty of Arts, , Charles University, ; Prague, Czech Republic
                [2 ]ISNI 0000000121885934, GRID grid.5335.0, Cambridge Language Sciences, , University of Cambridge, ; Cambridge, UK
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0457 9566, GRID grid.9435.b, School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, , University of Reading, ; Reading, UK
                Article
                9629
                10.1007/s10936-019-09629-y
                6513900
                30840217
                © The Author(s) 2019

                OpenAccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

                Funding
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000839, University of Reading;
                Award ID: 21012649
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: De Vincenzi Foundation
                Award ID: 01-16
                Award Recipient :
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                © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

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