Is there a 'fete' in 'fetish'? Effects of orthographic opacity on morpho-orthographic segmentation in visual word recognition

Samantha F. McCormick, Kathleen Rastle*, Matthew H. Davis

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    75 Citations (Scopus)


    Recent research using masked priming has suggested that there is a form of morphological decomposition that is based solely on the appearance of morphological complexity and that operates independently of semantic information [Longtin, C.M., Segui, J., & Hallé, P. A. (2003). Morphological priming without morphological relationship. Language and Cognitive Processes, 18, 313-334; Rastle, K., Davis, M. H., & New, B. (2004). The broth in my brother's brothel: Morpho-orthographic segmentation in visual word recognition. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 11, 1090-1098]. The research presented here asks whether this morpho-orthographic segmentation process breaks down for derived stimuli that cannot be segmented perfectly into their morphemic components. Three masked priming experiments are presented that demonstrate that morpho-orthographic segmentation is robust to a series of common orthographic alterations found in complex words, including (a) missing 'e' (e.g., adorable-ADORE), (b) shared 'e' (e.g., lover-LOVE), and (c) duplicated consonant (e.g., dropper-DROP). Our fourth experiment demonstrates that this robustness to orthographic disruption is preserved even in the absence of a semantic relationship between prime and target (e.g., committee-COMMIT; badger-BADGE; fetish-FETE). Results are discussed in terms of the nature of the orthographic representations used in skilled reading.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)307-326
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Memory and Language
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008


    • Masked priming
    • Morphology
    • Parsing
    • Reading
    • Visual word recognition

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