Ava Creemers


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  • Creemers, A., Goodwin Davies, A., Wilder, R. J., Tamminga, M., & Embick, D. (2020). Opacity, transparency, and morphological priming: A study of prefixed verbs in Dutch. Journal of Memory and Language, 110: 104055. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2019.104055.


    A basic question for the study of the mental lexicon is whether there are morphological representations and processes that are independent of phonology and semantics. According to a prominent tradition, morphological relatedness requires semantic transparency: semantically transparent words are related in meaning to their stems, while semantically opaque words are not. This study examines the question of morphological relatedness using intra-modal auditory priming by Dutch prefixed verbs. The key conditions involve semantically transparent prefixed primes (e.g., aanbieden ‘offer’, with the stem bieden, also ‘offer’) and opaque primes (e.g., verbieden ‘forbid’). Results show robust facilitation for both transparent and opaque pairs; phonological (Experiment 1) and semantic (Experiment 2) controls rule out the possibility that these other types of relatedness are responsible for the observed priming effects. The finding of facilitation with opaque primes suggests that morphological processing is independent of semantic and phonological representations. Accordingly, the results are incompatible with theories that make semantic overlap a necessary condition for relatedness, and favor theories in which words may be related in ways that do not require shared meaning. The general discussion considers several specific proposals along these lines, and compares and contrasts questions about morphological relatedness of the type found here with the different but related question of whether there is morphological decomposition of complex forms or not.
  • Knudsen, B., Creemers, A., & Meyer, A. S. (2020). Forgotten little words: How backchannels and particles may facilitate speech planning in conversation? Frontiers in Psychology, 11: 593671. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.593671.


    In everyday conversation, turns often follow each other immediately or overlap in time. It has been proposed that speakers achieve this tight temporal coordination between their turns by engaging in linguistic dual-tasking, i.e., by beginning to plan their utterance during the preceding turn. This raises the question of how speakers manage to co-ordinate speech planning and listening with each other. Experimental work addressing this issue has mostly concerned the capacity demands and interference arising when speakers retrieve some content words while listening to others. However, many contributions to conversations are not content words, but backchannels, such as “hm”. Backchannels do not provide much conceptual content and are therefore easy to plan and respond to. To estimate how much they might facilitate speech planning in conversation, we determined their frequency in a Dutch and a German corpus of conversational speech. We found that 19% of the contributions in the Dutch corpus, and 16% of contributions in the German corpus were backchannels. In addition, many turns began with fillers or particles, most often translation equivalents of “yes” or “no,” which are likewise easy to plan.We proposed that to generate comprehensive models of using language in conversation psycholinguists should study not only the generation and processing of content words, as is commonly done, but also consider backchannels, fillers, and particles.

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