Predicting inflectional morphology from context

Steven G. Luke, Kiel Christianson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present studies investigated the influence of the semantic and syntactic predictability of an inflectional morpheme on word recognition and morphological processing. In two eye-tracking experiments, we examined the effect of syntactic and semantic context on the processing of letter transpositions in inflected words. Participants experienced greater and earlier disruption from cross-morpheme letter transpositions when target verbs appeared in a context that syntactically predicted the presence of a past-tense suffix. Further, internal transpositions caused greater and earlier disruption even in monomorphemic verbs when syntactic context created an expectation of morphological complexity. No effect of semantic predictability was observed, potentially because the semantic manipulation was insufficiently strong. The results reveal that syntactic contexts typical of most English sentences can lead readers to make predictions about the morphological structure of upcoming words.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-748
Number of pages14
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 3 2015


  • context
  • eye tracking
  • inflection
  • morphology
  • prediction
  • transposed-letter effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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