The combinatorial lexicon : psycholinguistic studies of Polish morphology
The goal of this thesis is to add a typologically distinct data point to the investigation
of access and representation of words in the mental lexicon, which until recently has been
biased towards English. We concentrated on Polish, which contrasts with English in the
richness of its inflectional and derivational morphology and its morpho-phonological
Using immediate cross-modal and delayed auditory-auditory priming, parallel issues
to those examined in English are investigated, as well as questions which cannot be
addressed in English, because of differences in morphological properties. Four main
findings are reported.
First, the representation of morphologically complex Polish words is combinatorial,
similar to English; This is supported by: (a) robust priming for items which share the
same stem; (b) affix priming for morphologically complex items; (c) suffix-suffix
interference for items competing for the same stem;
Second, the results on Polish highly and moderately semantically transparent
compounds suggest that the former may be represented in a combinatorial format and the
latter as full forms. This contrasts with English where both types of compound are
claimed to be stored as full forms.
Third, initial investigations of the role of semantic transparency in determining how
morphologically complex words are represented, suggest that transparent items are stored
decompositionally whereas opaque items are stored as full forms. This conforms to the
English findings, but contrasts with Semitic languages. Further investigations indicate that
semantic compositionality may be more important that transparency, although more
research is needed here.
Finally, the results suggest that phonological alternants of the same stem, whether
regular or irregular, are stored in a single lexical entry, and, in the auditory modality, map
directly onto the same abstract underlying representation.
Overall the results support the claim that the Polish lexicon IS organised
morphemically in a combinatorial, phonologically abstract format