The role of configurational asymmetry in the lexical access of prefixed verbs: Evidence from French

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In this paper we investigated the effects of configurational asymmetry in prefixed verbs in French. We used a simple lexical decision paradigm to compare prefixed verbs with external and internal prefixes as specified in linguistic theory (Di Sciullo, 1997) where external prefixes do not change the aktionsart and the verb argument structure of the verb, but internal prefixes do change the aktionsart and may change the verb argument structure of the verb. In Experiment 1 we tested the bi-valent prefix dé- where the configurational difference between external and internal properties of a prefix did not elicit differential response latencies. However, in Experiment 2, where unambiguous prefixes (internal en- and external ré-) were tested, the external prefix elicited longer latencies. These results are discussed with respect to the linguistic constraints the configurational properties of prefixes place upon psycholinguistic models of lexical access, as well as with respect to the effects of prefix bi-valence in the recognition of prefixed verbs.

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