Understanding L2-derived words in context: Is complete receptive morphological knowledge necessary?

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The study investigates whether comprehension of derived words in text context requires a complete understanding of word parts. It explores comprehension of derived words as a function of learner proficiency and contextual clues. Ninety English-as-a-foreign-language learners at three proficiency levels participated in three successive tests representing three clues conditions, absence of clues, availability of syntactic clues, and availability of syntactic and semantic clues. They had to supply the meaning of 22 derived pseudowords constructed with nonword stems and 22 frequent affixes - for example, stacement, gummful. The meanings of the nonword stems were provided. Test scores were compared by 3 (proficiency level) × 3 (clue condition) analysis of variance with repeated measures. The results showed effects of both variables, proficiency and clues. The largest increase in comprehension scores occurred with the addition of syntactic clues. The results imply that derived forms of familiar base words can be understood even when learners' receptive morphological knowledge is not complete.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-213
Number of pages14
JournalStudies in Second Language Acquisition
Issue number1
StatePublished - 26 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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