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Using a longitudinal design, we examined the relationship between morphological awareness and morphological decoding reading strategy that utilizes the morphemic structure of complex words to produce the correct pronunciation in English-speaking children across grades 3 and 4. The opposite relationship was not observed. Our study offers preliminary evidence substantiating the influence of morphological awareness on morphological decoding over time, even beyond general word reading skills.

In doing so, we make important strides in elucidating the potential mechanisms underlying the relationship between morphological awareness and reading comprehension in developing readers. Morphological awareness MA appears to play an important role in reading comprehension. In Grade 1 and 2, however, word reading often better explains reading comprehension skills. Hierarchical regressions were used to test the contribution of each effect entered first and last after comprehension-related skills, namely, vocabulary, nonverbal reasoning, and phonological awareness.

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As predicted, children in Grade 2 continue to show strong relations between word reading and reading comprehension. However, this effect appeared to be more strongly linked to their ability to read polysyllabic words than some general word reading competency. A great proportion of the words children have to write are morphologically complex. Several studies indicate that developing spellers take into account the morphological structure of words when spelling.

Psycholinguistics/Morphology

For example, their spelling of the word turn is more accurate when it is embedded in a morphologically complex word e. The question then arises as to when in the time course of word writing developing spellers process morphemes. The aim of the present study was to track the influence of morpheme units when writing words in a copy task in second graders. The 36 stimuli were divided into three conditions: morphologically complex words sa. Participants were asked to copy these words that were presented on a computer screen.

They were given the possibility to check the word to copy when writing by pressing a specific key on the digitizer. The results indicate that word orthography was not checked randomly when writing. Second graders preferentially checked the model at the syllabic and at the morphemic boundary, compared to the other localizations.


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This result suggests that syllables and morphemes are units of processing when writing as early as in grade 2. Italian 6th graders, with and without dyslexia, read pseudowords and low-frequency words composed of high-frequency roots and suffixes better than stimuli not including any morpheme. The present study assessed whether morphemes affect a younger children, with and without dyslexia; b spelling as well as reading; c words with low-frequency morphemes. Fifteen 3rd graders with dyslexia and dysgraphia DC and 15 age-matched typically developing 3rd graders TDC read aloud and spelt to dictation pseudowords and words.

Spelling and reading accuracy were analyzed with logistic mixed effects models. Words and pseudowords were analyzed separately.


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  5. Children with dyslexia were less accurate than TDC. Word reading and spelling were positively affected by morphology. However, task interacted with morphology: reading was not facilitated by low-frequency roots and suffixes. By comparing affixes in a single corpus using this measure, we can gauge the degree of productivity of one affix relative to another. Closely connected to productivity are the concepts of blocking and competition.

    Aronoff , p. If languages truly avoid synonyms, the existence of a word with a particular meaning will prevent the creation of another word that means precisely same thing. Applied to derivational morphology we are led to expect that if English has the word barbaric , for example, it should not also have the word barbarous unless the two words were to have distinct meanings.

    More generally, if blocking is really a principle of derivation, we should find words formed on the same base with two functionally identical suffixes only if those two words mean different things. Affixes that are functionally identical, for example, deriving adjectives from nouns, as with - ic and - ous , or deriving nouns from verbs, as with - ation , -ment, -al, -ur e, and so on are said to be in competition with one another. For any given base, then, only one of a set of competing affixes should be found to occur, unless the resulting forms have different meanings.

    Compound processing in second language acquisition of English

    This is indeed true in some cases, for example with the three deverbal nominalizations that can be formed on the verb commit : commission , committal , and commitment all have distinct meanings. However, as Bauer et al. Indeed, the words barbarous and barbaric can be found used with precisely the same meaning in the Corpus of Contemporary American English COCA Davies, , as can pairs of deverbal nominalizations like omitment and omission or cessation and ceasement , among many others.

    One tentative conclusion that Bauer et al. Another topic that has engendered lively debate in recent years has been that of affix ordering. The essential problem is this: derivational affixes must minimally be specified as to the categories both of the bases they select and the resulting words they produce.

    So, for example, the suffix - ness in English attaches to adjectives and produces nouns, as does the suffix - ity. The affixes - ish and - esque both derive adjectives on nominal bases, among other categories. All other things being equal, we would expect both - ness and - ity to attach to words derived with - ish and - esque. Yet this is not what we find. How do we account for such lacunae? Several theories have been proposed to account for the ordering properties of derivational affixes. Early on in the history of generative morphology, the theory of level ordering within lexical phonology and morphology was deployed to account for affix ordering Kiparsky, ; Siegel, Affixes were arranged into blocks or levels and these blocks or levels were ordered with respect to one another such that affixes attached at later levels were predicted to be found outside affixes attached at earlier levels, but not vice versa.

    Levels for English were at least partially correlated with different etymological origins, that is, non-native versus native affixes. As pointed out by Fabb , however, lexical phonology and morphology still predicted possible combinations of affixes that were unattested. Aronoff and Fuhrhop propose the Monosuffix Constraint for affix ordering restrictions in English; this constraint limits the number of Germanic suffixes in an English word to one.

    Neither constraint is entirely successful in predicting possible combinations of affixes, however. The theory of Complexity Based Ordering proposed by Hay and further developed in Hay and Plag and Plag and Baayen attributes constraints on the ordering of affixes to principles of processing.

    An Introduction to Morphology

    The basic idea behind Complexity Based Ordering is that affixes that can be easily parsed in a word cannot occur inside affixes that are less easily parsed in a word. Restrictions on ordering are therefore attributed not only to selectional restrictions but also to psycholinguistic factors. A good overview of the theoretical debate concerning affix ordering can be found in Saarinen and Hay An issue that has long concerned morphologists studying derivation is the overall place of derivation in the grammar.

    Specifically, the concern has been whether derivational morphology can or should be analyzed as a part of the syntactic component of the grammar or whether its properties are sufficiently distinct to analyze it on its own terms, as a part of a purely morphological component of grammar. Good historical treatments of the issue can be found in Spencer , , Toman , and Scalise and Guevara Briefly, the earliest accounts of derivational morphology in generative grammar, like Lees and Brekle , wholeheartedly embrace the earliest model of transformational grammar as applied to the formation of complex words.

    The latter are productive and regular, and may be analyzed using syntactic rules. The former are sufficiently idiosyncratic that their formation must be consigned to the lexicon, which as DiSciullo and Williams later claim, is the locus of all irregularity in the grammar, or to a separate morphological component. Much attention has been devoted since then to showing that morphology cannot be separated from syntax as clearly as the Lexical Integrity Principle would want it to be. It is clear that some sorts of derivation apply to whole phrases, as examples like one-step-behind-hood and down-to-earth-ness from Bauer et al.

    Distributed morphology has generally paid less attention to derivation than to inflection, however, and it remains to be seen how nuances of affixal productivity and polysemy can be captured in that framework. While linguistic approaches to derivational morphology have been largely concerned with form, structure, meaning, and the relationship among them, psycholinguistic approaches have concentrated on the perception, processing, and production of derived words.

    Irregularity in Morphology (and Beyond)

    Experimental methods include the use of lexical decision tasks that measure reaction time also called response latency , eye-tracking for written processing, and increasingly the use of sophisticated neuroimaging techniques such as electroencephalography EEG , magnetoencephalography MEG , and functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRI. A question that has been central to the psycholinguistic study of derivation is whether words are broken down into their constituent morphemes when they are accessed in the mental lexicon or whether derived words are accessed as unanalyzed wholes.

    Early experimental work such as Taft and Forster and Taft suggests that words are parsed into their component morphemes during lexical access, at least for words formed with prefixes. It is impossible to do justice to this vast area of research here, but the reader is referred to Baayen for a detailed review of psycholinguistic approaches to derivation. Aronoff, M. Word formation in generative grammar. Find this resource:. Bauer, L.