Production of Estonian case-inflected nouns shows whole-word frequency and paradigmatic effects


Most psycholinguistic models of lexical processing assume that the comprehension and production of inflected forms is mediated by morphemic constituents. Several more recent studies, however, have challenged this assumption by providing empirical evidence that information about individual inflected forms and their paradigmatic relations is available in long-term memory (Baayen et al. 1997; Milin et al. 2009a, 2009b). Here, we investigate how whole-word frequency, inflectional paradigm size and morphological family size affect production latencies and articulation durations when subjects are asked to read aloud isolated Estonian case-inflected nouns. In Experiment 1, we observed that words with a larger morphological family elicited shorter speech onset latencies, and that forms with higher whole-word frequency had shorter acoustic durations. Experiment 2, for which we increased statistical power by using 2,800 words, revealed that higher whole-word frequency, inflectional paradigm size, and morphological family size reduced both speech onset times and acoustic durations. These results extend our knowledge of morphological processing in three ways. First, whole-word frequency effects of inflected forms in morphologically rich languages are not restricted to a small number of very high-frequency forms, contrary to previous claims (Niemi et al. 1994; Hankamer 1989; Yang 2016). Second, we replicated the morphological family size effect in a new domain, the acoustic durations of inflected forms. Third, we showed that a novel paradigmatic measure, inflectional paradigm size, predicts word naming latencies and acoustic durations. These results fit well with Word-and-Paradigm morphology (Blevins 2016) and argue against strictly (de)compositional models of lexical processing.

In Morphology, 28(1), 71–97.