Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Processing French

Processing French: A Psycholinguistic Perspective

Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 224
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Processing French
    Book Description:

    Processing Frenchpresents a groundbreaking empirical study of the processing of morphologically simple and complex French words. Peter Golato's research offers an insightful account of the lexical storage and retrieval of isolated words and words within sentences.

    Processing Frenchinvestigates the native-language processing of French, a language for which findings have not definitively supported a dual-mechanism account of morphological processing. Through word- and sentence-level studies, the book accomplishes two goals. First, it offers behavioral evidence in support of a dual-mechanism processing account at the word level. In contrast to English, however, the evidence with French does not turn upon a contrast in inflectional regularity among verbs but instead hinges upon a diachronic contrast, with synchronic relevance, in the productivity of derivational suffixes among nouns. Second, by incorporating the findings of the word-level studies into sentence-level studies, the book offers a window onto the morphological processing of displaced sentential elements, specifically morphologically simple and complexwh-moved nouns and raised lexical verbs.

    Peter Golato is assistant professor of French at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

    "Processing Frenchis decidedly original, and it is equally and decidedly sound. This book makes a superb shelf reference for anybody working in psycholinguistics, first- and second-language acquisition, and the syntactic study of French...and draws some fascinating conclusions about what might really be at play in human language acquisition." -Fred Davidson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13295-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    Current theories and research on the psychology of word- and sentence-level language processing generally posit two kinds of processes: associative, data-driven processes and symbolic, rule-based processes. Findings from behavioral studies suggest that we understand and produce language using a combination of both kinds of processing. To date, the majority of psycholinguistic evidence for a “dual-mechanism” theoretical perspective comes from word-level studies conducted with Germanic languages. Results from studies testing speakers of non-Germanic languages, however, point to an almost exclusive reliance upon rule-based processes.

    This book was written to address two questions. First, can support for the dual-mechanism perspective be obtained...

  5. I Theories of Language Processing
    (pp. 8-31)

    The basic distinction between morphological regularity and irregularity has figured in child language-acquisition studies since at least the 1950s. For instance, researchers such as Anisfeld and Tucker (1967), Berko (1958), Bryant and Anisfeld (1969), and Ervin (1964) all noted that at a certain point in their linguistic development (roughly between the ages of four and seven), child acquirers of English are able to productively inflect novel verbs with regular past-tense endings and novel nouns with regular plural endings. To take one example, Berko (1958) found that when child acquirers of English were shown a picture of a fictitious animal and...

  6. II Priming and Priming Studies
    (pp. 32-64)

    Much of the behavioral evidence cited in support of words and rules theory has come from studies in which people perform language-related tasks under tightly controlled (i.e., experimental) conditions. One such task is deciding whether a string of visually presented letters is a word. When the string of letters is preceded by other information, the decision task is said to be “primed.” Because priming studies figure prominently as supporting evidence for words and rules theory, I will begin this chapter with a review of the notion of priming, with special emphasis on the rationale behind the variants of the primed...

  7. III Priming with Inflected French Verbs
    (pp. 65-78)

    The results of Meunier and Marslen-Wilson (2000) and Royle, Jarema, and Kehayia (2002) suggest that French-speaking adults show priming from both regular and irregular French verbs. Given the unexpected nature of these results and their significance for dual-mechanism models of language processing, it is important to attempt to replicate their findings. It is important, too, to note that while at least one of these studies (Meunier and Marslen-Wilson, 2000) was interpreted as supporting the applicability of a dual-mechanism model to lexical representation in French, their results also invite a certain amount of principled speculation, for example, about French-English differences in...

  8. IV From French Rules to French Words
    (pp. 79-104)

    The study by Meunier and Marslen-Wilson (2000) is of great interest in that it examined the mental representation of regular and irregular French verbs using methodologies that when used previously with English speakers, had shown support for dual-mechanism accounts such as words and rules theory. Given that the materials tested reflected a contrast in French verb-paradigm regularity similar to that found with English regular and irregular past-tense forms, a reasonable expectation was that the French participants of Meunier and Marslen-Wilson’s study, like the English subjects in previous studies, would show evidence of morphological priming only with materials drawn from regular...

  9. V Syntactic Priming with French Nouns
    (pp. 105-137)

    The previous masked-priming experiments were designed to investigate the lexical representation of isolated French verbs and nouns. In line with earlier studies, findings from the study with French verbs suggested that both regular and irregular French verbs are processed using rules. The findings of the study with productively and unproductively suffixed French nouns were interpreted as providing evidence for words, that is, linguistic items that in words and rules theory are stored in and retrieved from a partly associative memory. The existence of such items had not been established in previous French studies.

    In this chapter, I will again investigate...

  10. VI Syntactic Priming with French Verbs
    (pp. 138-163)

    Using productively and unproductively derived French nouns and French participants, the experiment in the previous chapter was designed to test predictions of words and rules theory in the context of sentence processing. The experiment was also designed to further examine the efficacy of the trace reactivation account.

    As we saw, the predictions of words and rules theory for sentence-level processing were largely borne out in that withisme-suffixed nouns, priming was observed between both identical and morphologically related targets and a hypothesized trace point, while with-suffixed nouns, no priming was observed between morphologically related targets and a hypothesized trace...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 164-176)

    In this chapter, I will review the findings of the four experiments. I will then consider the results of the experiments in light of the theories of lexical representation and sentence processing they were designed to test.

    This experiment, a partial replication of the masked-priming study reported in Meunier and Marslen-Wilson, 2000, investigated whether an inflected French verb would prime its root form, and whether the priming effect would be dependent upon a verb’s regularity. Degree of priming with regular and irregular verbs was also compared with an identical-priming condition and two control conditions.

    Results suggested that for native French-speaking...

  12. Appendix
    (pp. 177-190)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 191-194)
  14. References
    (pp. 195-204)
  15. Index
    (pp. 205-208)