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The representation of morphologically complex words in the developing lexicon*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 April 2008

Dalhousie University
Dalhousie University
Address for correspondence: Jennifer Rabin or Hélène Deacon, Department of Psychology, Life Sciences Centre, Dalhousie University, 1355 Oxford Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Email: or
Address for correspondence: Jennifer Rabin or Hélène Deacon, Department of Psychology, Life Sciences Centre, Dalhousie University, 1355 Oxford Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Email: or


The study reported here examined the manner in which children represent morphologically complex words in the lexicon. Children in grades 1 to 5 completed a fragment completion task to assess the priming effects of morphologically related words. Both inflected and derived words (e.g. needs and needy, respectively) were more effective primes than control words (e.g. needle) that share similar orthography and phonology with the target word (e.g. need). These effects were consistent across the developmental period studied. Further, equivalent priming effects from the inflected and derived forms suggest that these word types are represented similarly in the developing lexicon.

Brief Research Report
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

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