Recognition of inflected words in a morphologically limited language: Frequency effects in monolinguals and bilinguals

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Lehtonen M, Niska H, Wande E, Niemi J, Laine M
Publication year: 2006
Journal: Journal of Psycholinguistic Research
Volume number: 35
Issue number: 2
Start page: 121
End page: 146
Number of pages: 26
ISSN: 0090-6905


The effect of word frequency on the processing of monomorphemic vs. inflected words was investigated in a morphologically relatively limited language, Swedish, with two participant groups: early Finnish-Swedish bilinguals and Swedish monolinguals. The visual lexical decision results of the monolinguals suggest morphological decomposition with low-frequency inflected nouns, while with medium- and high-frequency inflections, full-form processing was apparently employed. The bilinguals demonstrated a similar pattern. The results suggest that morpheme-based recognition is employed even in a morphologically limited language when the inflectional forms occur rarely. With more frequent inflectional forms, full-form representations have developed for both mono- and bilingual speakers. In a comparable study employing a morphologically rich language, Finnish, Lehtonen and Laine (2003, Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 6, 213-225) observed full-form access only at the high-frequency range and only for monolinguals. These differences suggest that besides word frequency and language background, the morphological richness of a language affects the processing mode employed with polymorphemic words.


bilingualism, inflected nouns, language structure, morphological processing, word frequency

Last updated on 2020-06-08 at 07:06