Morphological priming without semantic relationship in Hebrew spoken word recognition

Jonathan Geary, Adam Ussishkin


We report on an auditory masked priming study designed to test the contributions of semantics and morphology to spoken word recognition in Hebrew. Thirty-one native Hebrew speakers judged the lexicality of Hebrew words that were primed by words which either share their root morpheme and a transparent semantic relationship with the target (e.g. poreʦ פּורץ ‘burglar’ priming priʦa פּריצה ‘burglary’) or share their root morpheme but lack a transparent semantic relationship with the target (e.g. mifraʦ מפרץ ‘gulf’ priming priʦa פּריצה ‘burglary’). We found facilitatory priming by both types of morphological relatives, supporting that semantic overlap is not required for morphological priming in Hebrew spoken word recognition. Thus, our results extend the findings of Frost, Forster, & Deutsch’s (1997) Experiment 5 to the auditory modality, while avoiding confounds between root priming and Hebrew’s abjad orthography associated with the visual masked priming paradigm. Further, our results are inconsistent with models of word processing which treat morphological priming as reflecting form and semantic coactivation, and instead support an independent role for root morphology in Hebrew lexical processing.


Semitic; morphological processing; semantics; auditory masked priming

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Copyright (c) 2019 Jonathan Geary, Adam Ussishkin

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