Morphological processing: A comparison between free and bound stem facilitation

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Linguists distinguish between words formed from free stems (e.g., actor: act) and those formed from bound stems (e.g., spectator: spect). In a forward masked priming task, we observed significant morphological facilitation for prime–target pairs that shared either a free (e.g., deform–CONFORM) or a bound (e.g., revive–SURVIVE) stem. Relative to an unrelated baseline, magnitudes of facilitation for free (e.g., form) and bound (e.g., vive) stems were significant and comparable, but relative to an orthographic baseline free stem facilitation was greater than bound stem facilitation. In addition, the magnitude of bound (but not free) stem morphological facilitation correlated with the number of morphological relatives.

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