Retrieving stem meanings in opaque words during auditory lexical processing

Creemers, A., & Embick, D. (2021). Retrieving stem meanings in opaque words during auditory lexical processing. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 36(9), 1107-1122. doi:10.1080/23273798.2021.1909085.
Recent constituent priming experiments show that Dutch and German prefixed verbs prime their stem, regardless of semantic transparency (e.g. Smolka et al. [(2014). ‘Verstehen’ (‘understand’) primes ‘stehen’ (‘stand’): Morphological structure overrides semantic compositionality in the lexical representation of German complex verbs. Journal of Memory and Language, 72, 16–36.]). We examine whether the processing of opaque verbs (e.g. herhalen “repeat”) involves the retrieval of only the whole-word meaning, or whether the lexical-semantic meaning of the stem (halen as “take/get”) is retrieved as well. We report the results of an auditory semantic priming experiment with Dutch prefixed verbs, testing whether the recognition of a semantic associate to the stem (BRENGEN “bring”) is facilitated by the presentation of an opaque prefixed verb. In contrast to prior visual studies, significant facilitation after semantically opaque primes is found, which suggests that the lexical-semantic meaning of stems in opaque words is retrieved. We examine the implications that these findings have for auditory word recognition, and for the way in which different types of meanings are represented and processed.
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