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

Minna Lehtonen, H Niska, E Wande, J Niemi, Matti Laine

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    42 Citations (Scopus)


    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.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)121–146
    Number of pages26
    JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2006
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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

    Cite this