Skip to main content Accessibility help

Measuring perceived morphological relatedness

  • Kathleen Currie Hall, Claire Allen, Tess Fairburn, Michael Fry, Michael McAuliffe and Kevin McMullin...


This paper provides a metric for determining whether a given pair of English words is perceived to be morphologically related, based on objective measurements of the words’ orthographic, phonetic, and semantic similarity to each other. The metric is developed on the basis of results from a behavioural study in which participants were asked to judge the relative similarity of pairs of words. The metric is intended to help researchers determine which forms in a language plausibly have segments that alternate; as an example, it is applied to the lexicon of English to illustrate its utility in calculating the frequency of alternation of [s] and [ʃ].

Cet article propose une méthode pour déterminer si deux mots anglais sont perçus comme étant morphologiquement reliés. Cette méthode est fondée sur des mesures objectives, comme des similitudes orthographiques, phonétiques et sémantiques. L'approche est issue des résultats d'une étude behaviorale où les participants ont jugé la similitude relative d'une paire de mots. Cette méthode a pour but d'aider les chercheurs à déterminer quelles formes dans une langue donnée ont plausiblement des segments qui alternent ; comme exemple, nous appliquons la méthode au lexique de l'anglais pour illustrer son utilité dans le calcul de la fréquence de l'alternance de [s] et [ʃ].

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Measuring perceived morphological relatedness
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Measuring perceived morphological relatedness
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Measuring perceived morphological relatedness
      Available formats


Corresponding author


Hide All
Allopenna, Paul D., Magnuson, James S., and Tanenhaus, Michael. 1998. Tracking the time course of spoken word recognition using eye movements: Evidence for continuous mapping models. Journal of Memory and Language 38(4): 419439.
Aronoff, Mark. 1976. Word formation in Generative Grammar. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Baayen, R. Harald. 2014. Experimental and psycholinguistic approaches to studying derivation. In The Oxford handbook of derivational morphology, ed. Lieber, Rochelle and Stekauer, Pavol, 95117. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Baayen, R. Harald, Dijkstra, Ton, and Schreuder, Robert. 1997. Singulars and plurals in Dutch: Evidence for a parallel dual-route model. Journal of Memory and Language 37(1): 94117.
Baayen, R. Harald, Levelt, Willem M. J., Schreuder, Robert, and Ernestus, Mirjam. 2008. Paradigmatic structure in speech production. Proceedings of the Chicago Linguistics Society 43: 129.
Baayen, R. Harald, Milin, Petar, Đurđević, Dusica Filipović, Hendrix, Peter, and Marelli, Marco. 2011. An amorphous model for morphological processing in visual comprehension based on naive discriminative learning. Psychological Review 118: 438481.
Banerjee, Satanjeev and Pedersen, Ted. 2003. Extended gloss overlaps as a measure of semantic relatedness. In Proceedings of the Eighteenth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 805810.
Bauer, Laurie. 1997. Evaluative morphology: A search for universals. Studies in Language 21(3): 533575.
Bien, Heidrun, Baayen, R. Harald, and Levelt, Willem J. M.. 2011. Frequency effects in the production of Dutch deverbal adjectives and inflected verbs. In Morphology in language comprehension, production, and acquisition, ed. Bertram, Raymond, Hyönä, Jukka and Laine, Matti, 683715. London: Psychology Press.
Booij, Geert. 1995. The phonology of Dutch. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Boomershine, Amanda, Currie Hall, Kathleen, Hume, Elizabeth, and Johnson, Keith. 2008. The influence of allophony vs. contrast on perception: the case of Spanish and English. In Contrast in phonology: perception and acquisition, ed. Avery, Peter, Elan Dresher, B. and Rice, Keren, 145171. Berlin: Mouton.
Brysbaert, Marc and New, Boris. 2009. Moving beyond Kučera and Francis: A critical evaluation of current word frequency norms and the introduction of a new and improved word frequency measure for American English. Behavior Research Methods 41(4): 977990.
Burani, Cristina, and Caramazza, Alfonso. 1987. Representation and processing of derived words. Language and Cognitive Processes 2(3–4): 217227.
Carlisle, Joanne F. 1988. Knowledge of derivational morphology and spelling ability in fourth, sixth, and eighth graders. Applied Psycholinguistics 9(3): 247266.
CMUDict (The Carnegie Mellon Pronouncing Dictionary. 2008. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon University.
Feldman, Laurie Beth. 2000. Are morphological effects distinguishable from the effects of shared meaning and shared form? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 26: 14311444.
Feldman, Laurie Beth, Soltano, Emily G., Pastizzo, Matthew J., and Francis, Sarah E.. 2004. What do graded effects of semantic transparency reveal about morphological processing? Brain and Language 90(1–3): 1730.
Forster, Kenneth I., and Chambers, Susan M.. 1973. Lexical access and naming time. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 12(6): 627635.
Frost, Ram, Deutsch, Avital, Gilboa, Orna, Tannenbaum, Michal, Michal, and Marslen-Wilson, William. 2000. Morphological priming: Dissociation of phonological, semantic, and morphological factors. Memory & Cognition 28(8): 12771288.
Gonnerman, Laura M., Seidenberg, Mark S., and Andersen, Elaine S.. 2007. Graded semantic and phonological similarity effects in priming: Evidence for a distributed connectionist approach to morphology. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 136(2): 323345.
Gussenhoven, Carlos. 1999. Illustrations of the IPA: Dutch. Handbook of the international phonetic association. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 7477.
ten Hacken, Pius. 2013. Diminutives and plurals of Dutch nouns. Quaderns de Filologia. Estudis lingüístics XVIII: 6170.
Hall, Kathleen Currie, Allen, Blake, Fry, Michael, Mackie, Scott, and McAuliffe, Michael. 2015. Phonological CorpusTools, Version 1.0. [Computer program]. Available from
Hay, Jennifer. 2003. Causes and consequences of word structure. New York and London: Routledge.
Johnson, Keith and Babel, Molly. 2010. On the perceptual basis of distinctive features: Evidence from the perception of fricatives by Dutch and English speakers. Journal of Phonetics 38(1): 127136.
Khorsi, Ahmed. 2012. On morphological relatedness. Natural Language Engineering 19(4): 537555.
Longtin, Catherine-Marie, Segui, Juan, and Hallé, Pierre A.. 2003. Morphological priming without morphological relationship. Language and Cognitive Processes 18(3): 313334.
Lu, Yu-an. 2012. The role of alternation in phonological relationships. Doctoral dissertation, Stony Brook University.
Marslen-Wilson, William, Komisarjevsky Tyler, Lorraine, Waksler, Rachelle, and Older, Lianne. 1994. Morphology and meaning in the English mental lexicon. Psychological Review 101: 333.
Marslen-Wilson, William and Zwitserlood, Pienie. 1989. Accessing spoken words: The importance of word onsets. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 15(3): 576585.
Meunier, Fanny, and Segui, Juan. 1999. Frequency effects in auditory word recognition: The case of suffixed words. Journal of Memory and Language 41(3): 327344.
Morris, Joanna, Frank, Tiffany, Grainger, Jonathan, and Holcomb, Philip J.. 2007. Semantic transparency and masked morphological priming: An ERP investigation. Psychophysiology 44(4): 506521.
Moscoso del Prado Martín, Fermín. 2003. Paradigmatic structures in morphological processing: Computational and cross-linguistic experimental studies. Doctoral dissertation, Radboud University Nijmegen.
Murrell, Graham A., and Morton, John. 1974. Word recognition and morphemic structure. Journal of Experimental Psychology 102(6): 963968.
Napps, Shirley E., and Fowler, Carol A.. 1987. Formal relationships among words and the organization of the mental lexicon. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 16(3): 257272.
Napps, Shirley E. 1989. Morphemic relationships in the lexicon: Are they distinct from semantic and formal relationships? Memory & Cognition 17(6): 729739.
Pastizzo, Matthew J., and Beth Feldman, Laurie. 2009. Multiple dimensions of relatedness among words: Conjoint effects of form and meaning in word recognition. The Mental Lexicon 4(1): 125.
Pluymaekers, Mark, Ernestus, Mirjam, and Harald Baayen, R.. 2005. Lexical frequency and acoustic reduction in spoken Dutch. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 118(4): 25612569.
Princeton University. 2010. About WordNet. WordNet.
Psychology Software Tools, Inc. [E-Prime 2.0]. 2012. Retrieved from
R Core Team. 2014. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.
Radeau, Monique, Besson, Mireille, Fonteneau, Elisabeth, and Luis Castro, Sao. 1998. Semantic, repetition, and rime priming between spoken words: Behavioral and electrophysiological evidence. Biological Psychology 48(2): 183204.
Seidenberg, Mark S., and Gonnerman, Laura M.. 2000. Explaining derivational morphology as the convergence of codes. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 4(9): 353361.
Seidenberg, Mark S., and McClelland, James L.. 1989. A distributed, developmental model of word recognition and naming. Psychological Review 96(4): 523568.
Silverman, Daniel. 2006. A critical introduction to phonology: of sound, mind, and body. London/New York: Continuum.
Smolka, Eva, Preller, Katrin H., and Eulitz, Carsten. 2014. ‘Verstehen’ (‘understand’) primes ‘stehen’ (‘stand’): Morphological structure overrides semantic compositionality in the lexical representation of German complex verbs. Journal of Memory and Language 72: 1636.
Sternberg, Robert J. and Powell, Janet S. 1983. Comprehending verbal comprehension. American Psychologist 38(8): 878893.
Stockall, Linnaea, and Marantz, Alec. 2006. A single route, full decomposition model of morphological complexity: MEG evidence. The Mental Lexicon 1(1): 85123.
Tabak, Wieke, Schreuder, Robert, and Harald Baayen, R.. 2010. Producing inflected verbs: A picture naming study. The Mental Lexicon 5(1): 2246.
Taft, Marcus, and Forster, Kenneth I.. 1975. Lexical storage and retrieval of prefixed words. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 14(6): 638647.
Tyler, Andrea, and Nagy, William. 1989. The acquisition of English derivational morphology. Journal of Memory and Language 28(6): 649667.
Vaden, Kenneth I., Halpin, H. R. and Hickok, G. S.. 2009. Irvine Phonotactic Online Dictionary. Version 2.0. [Data file]. Available from
Xu, Joe, and Taft, Marcus. 2015. The effects of semantic transparency and base frequency on the recognition of English complex words. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 41(3): 904910.
Zwitserlood, Pienie, Bolwiender, Agnes, and Drews, Etta. 2004. Priming morphologically complex verbs by sentence contexts: Effects of semantic transparency and ambiguity. Language and Cognitive Processes 20(1): 395415.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Measuring perceived morphological relatedness

  • Kathleen Currie Hall, Claire Allen, Tess Fairburn, Michael Fry, Michael McAuliffe and Kevin McMullin...


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.