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Inflection and derivation in native and non-native language processing: Masked priming experiments on Turkish*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 November 2012

Department of Foreign Language Education, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey
Potsdam Research Institute for Multilingualism (PRIM), University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
Address for correspondence: Harald Clahsen, University of Potsdam, Potsdam Research Institute for Multilingualism, Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 24–25, 14476 Potsdam,


Much previous experimental research on morphological processing has focused on surface and meaning-level properties of morphologically complex words, without paying much attention to the morphological differences between inflectional and derivational processes. Realization-based theories of morphology, for example, assume specific morpholexical representations for derived words that distinguish them from the products of inflectional or paradigmatic processes. The present study reports results from a series of masked priming experiments investigating the processing of inflectional and derivational phenomena in native (L1) and non-native (L2) speakers in a non-Indo-European language, Turkish. We specifically compared regular (Aorist) verb inflection with deadjectival nominalization, both of which are highly frequent, productive and transparent in Turkish. The experiments demonstrated different priming patterns for inflection and derivation, specifically within the L2 group. Implications of these findings are discussed both for accounts of L2 morphological processing and for the controversial linguistic distinction between inflection and derivation.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012 

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The research reported here was supported by a British Academy Postdoctoral Visiting Fellowship to BK and by an Alexander-von-Humboldt Professorship to HC. We are grateful to the Turkish Learning and Research Center of Gazi University (Gazi TÖMER) in Ankara for providing us with lab space to test participants. We also thank Nihan Ketrez, three anonymous reviewers, and the members of the Potsdam Research Institute for Multilingualism for detailed and helpful comments on the present work.


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