Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Buchanan, Lori

Keywords

Language, literature and linguistics, Psychology

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

Compound words are words with multiple constituents that individually have their own meaning and that combine to make another meaning (e.g. doghouse ). When these constituents help us infer the meaning of the whole compound word, they are known as transparent constituents (e.g. either constituent of blueberry ). In contrast, opaque constituents do not help us infer the meaning of the whole compound word (e.g. moonshine). The current study sought to describe the processing of partially transparent words, in which one constituent relates to the total meaning, whereas the other does not (like strawberry, which is a berry, but not made of straw). Thirty-seven participants were asked to complete a lexical decision task in which they indicated whether an item was a word or a nonword. The fully transparent compound words enjoyed a processing advantage when compared to the monomorphemic words. This processing advantage disappeared when any constituent (or both) became opaque.

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