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Derivational morphology approached with event-related potentials

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We investigated the processing of derived adjectives in German using event-related potentials (ERPs). ERPs were registered to existing adjectives (freundlich, ‘friendly’), to morphologically complex pseudowords that were synonymous to an existing adjective and thus interpretable (*freundhaft), and to complex pseudowords that were structurally and semantically anomalous (*freundbar). Stimuli were embedded in sentence contexts, displayed word by word. An ERP effect with a left-frontal maximum was observed around 450–500 ms after stimulus onset. In this window, both pseudoword types differed from existing adjectives. We interpret this data pattern as a LAN, reflecting structural problems due to morphological parsing, a process that is distinct from semantic processing.
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Keywords: ERP; German; derivation; morphology; semantics; visual word recognition

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 15, 2009

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