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Aufhören (‘stop’) activates hören (‘hear’) but not Musik (‘music’) : The difference between lexical and semantic processing of German particle verbs

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This study examines whether the lexical processing of German particle verbs differs from their processing in a semantic network. To this end, we explored whether the processing of particle verbs induces access to the stem (Experiment 1) and to a semantic associate of the stem (Experiment 2). In two cross-modal priming experiments, participants listened to particle verbs that were (a) semantically transparent (e.g. anhören, ‘listen to’), (b) semantically opaque (e.g. Aufhören, ‘stop’), or (c) form-related (e.g. aushöhlen, ‘mold’) with respect to their stem (e.g., hören, ‘hear’). Participants made lexical decisions about visually presented stems (e.g., hören, ‘hear’) and about semantic associates to the stem (e.g., Musik, ‘music’) in Experiments 1 and 2, respectively.

Relative to form controls, semantically transparent and opaque particle verbs induced equivalent stem priming (Experiment 1), indicating that the lexical processing of particle verbs occurs via the stem regardless of semantic transparency. However, neither semantically transparent nor opaque particle verbs primed semantic associates of the stem (Experiment 2). These findings indicate that stem access during lexical processing does not extend to a semantic level where the meaning of the stem is processed. We discuss these findings regarding present models of lexical processing.

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Keywords: complex verbs; lexical processing; lexical representation; morphological priming; particle verbs; semantic associations; semantic priming; semantic transparency; stem priming

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 31, 2019

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