Frequency effects in compound production

Bien, H., Levelt, W. J. M., & Baayen, R. H. (2005). Frequency effects in compound production. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102(49), 17876-17881.
Four experiments investigated the role of frequency information in compound production by independently varying the frequencies of the first and second constituent as well as the frequency of the compound itself. Pairs of Dutch noun-noun compounds were selected such that there was a maximal contrast for one frequency while matching the other two frequencies. In a position-response association task, participants first learned to associate a compound with a visually marked position on a computer screen. In the test phase, participants had to produce the associated compound in response to the appearance of the position mark, and we measured speech onset latencies. The compound production latencies varied significantly according to factorial contrasts in the frequencies of both constituting morphemes but not according to a factorial contrast in compound frequency, providing further evidence for decompositional models of speech production. In a stepwise regression analysis of the joint data of Experiments 1-4, however, compound frequency was a significant nonlinear predictor, with facilitation in the low-frequency range and a trend toward inhibition in the high-frequency range. Furthermore, a combination of structural measures of constituent frequencies and entropies explained significantly more variance than a strict decompositional model, including cumulative root frequency as the only measure of constituent frequency, suggesting a role for paradigmatic relations in the mental lexicon.
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