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Volume 16 Number 4, Winter 2019, Pages 1069-1460 PDF Download

Lexical Processing of English Derived Words by Korean EFL Learners and NSE

    Gwanhi Yun

Debate has continued about how L1 speakers process morphologically complex words. Consensus has been divided between single- and dual-route processing models. We conducted lexical decision experiments with a wide variety of English derived words to investigate how Korean EFL learners and L1 English speakers access complex words. First, we show that English prefixed or suffixed words are processed with greater cost than simplex words for both English L1 speakers and EFL learners. Second, suffixed words are processed with faster response times and higher accuracy than prefixed words. Third, complex words are accessed differently in terms of affixal salience according to the individual affixes that belong to the same morphological classes. Finally, the homophony of affixes with dual membership induces Korean EFL learners, not English L1 speakers to process complex words with more difficulty than those with single-membership affixes. These results suggest that derived words are processed via morphological decomposition into stems and affixes whereas simplex words are directly accessed as whole word units, supporting the dual-route processing models. Additionally, this study implies that prefixes are more likely to be parsed from the bases than suffixes. Furthermore, it is suggested that the processing efficiency of derivational words varies according to each affix type, which complements the formal structural theory of lexical morphology. Finally, it is indicated that the confusability of affixes with dual membership hinders the processing of the derivational words.

Keywords: EFL, NSE, Morphological processing, single-route model, dual-route model, affixal salience, EFL learners' lexicon, processing-based constraint on affix ordering