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The Representation and Processing of Compound Words$
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Gary Libben and Gonia Jarema

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199228911

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199228911.001.0001

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Why Study Compound Processing? An overview of the issues

Why Study Compound Processing? An overview of the issues

(p.1) 1 Why Study Compound Processing? An overview of the issues
The Representation and Processing of Compound Words


Oxford University Press

This chapter presents an overview of the key psycholinguistic issues in the study of compound representation and processing. Against the background of these issues, it presents a case for the view that morphological processing, in general, and compound processing, in particular, is characterized by the principle of ‘maximization of opportunity’. In this view, the lexical processing system seeks neither computational efficiency nor storage efficiency. It argues that morphological processing is better captured as a system that seeks to maximize the opportunities for activation at all levels. The chapter proposes that the activation of a compound word such as ‘strawberry’ involves the activation of all constituents as well as the whole word. Where such massive activation creates conflict between the meanings of the compound constituents and that of the whole word, a set of post-activation ‘cleanup’ procedures resolves this conflict by deactivating spurious representations.

Keywords:   compound words, compound representation, morphological processing, compound processing

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