Morphological Processes in language Comprehension

William D. Marslen-Wilson

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780198568971
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
Morphological Processes in language Comprehension

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience



A psycholinguistic account of human communication must explain how linguistic inputs and outputs are structured to convey the speaker's intended meaning. The concept of a “mental lexicon” plays a key role in standard conceptions of this process, referring to the learned representations that mediate between the spoken utterance (or written text) and the interpretation computed by the listener or reader. The organisation of these representations needs to reflect, broadly speaking, two kinds of linguistic information being communicated: semantic information, about meanings in the world; and a wide range of syntactic information, specifying grammatical relations, tense, aspect, and so forth. These different kinds of linguistic information are associated with specific lexical entities—words and morphemes—which are assembled together, in different ways in different languages, to convey the necessary mix of semantic and syntactic cues to intended meaning as the speech input is heard over time (or as a written text is read). This article discusses morphological processes in language comprehension, focusing on inflectional morphology and derivational morphology. It also considers morphological decomposition and lexical representation.

Keywords: mental lexicon; semantic information; syntactic information; words; morphemes; language comprehension; inflectional morphology; derivational morphology; morphological decomposition; lexical representation

Article.  14140 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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