The processing of morphologically complex words in a specific speaker group A masked-priming study with Turkish heritage speakers

Jacob G., Kirkici B.

MENTAL LEXICON, vol.11, pp.308-328, 2016 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 11
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1075/ml.11.2.06jac
  • Journal Name: MENTAL LEXICON
  • Page Numbers: pp.308-328
  • Keywords: heritage speakers, complex words, morphological decomposition, masked priming, Turkish, MORPHO-ORTHOGRAPHIC SEGMENTATION, INDIVIDUAL-DIFFERENCES, SKILLED READERS, DECOMPOSITION, RECOGNITION, FORM
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The present study investigates to what extent morphological priming varies across different groups of native speakers of a language. In two masked-priming experiments, we investigate the processing of morphologically complex Turkish words in Turkish heritage speakers raised and living in Germany. Materials and experimental design were based on Kirkici and Clahsen's (2013) study on morphological processing in Turkish native speakers and L2 learners, allowing for direct comparisons between the three groups. Experiment 1 investigated priming effects for morphologically related prime-target pairs. Heritage speakers showed a similar pattern of results as the L1 comparison group, with significant priming effects for prime-target pairs with inflected primes (e.g. 'sorar-sor' asks-ask) as well as for prime-target pairs with derived primes (e.g. 'saglik-sag' health-healthy). In Experiment 2, we measured priming effects for prime-target pairs which were semantically and morphologically unrelated, but only related with regard to orthographic overlap (e.g. 'devre-dev' period-giant). Unlike both L1 speakers raised in Turkey and highly proficient L2 learners, heritage speakers also showed significant priming effects in this condition. Our results suggest that heritage speakers differ from both native speakers and L2 learners in that they rely more on (orthographic) surface form properties of the stimulus during early stages of word recognition, at the expense of morphological decomposition.