The effect of phonological and morphological overlap on the processing of Bengali words


  • Hilary Suzanne Zinsmeyer Wynne University of Oxford
  • Sandra Kotzor University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University
  • Beinan Zhou University of Oxford
  • Aditi Lahiri University of Oxford


In normal language processing, we are continuously analyzing the form and structure of incoming speech signals in order to understand their meaning. At the same time, we unavoidably encounter situations in which words are contained within other words (e.g. ham in hammer). Since morphologically-related words often have a certain amount of phonological overlap, it is essential to understand the relevance of this overlap while investigating morphological processing. The current study provides a psycholinguistic investigation of the processing consequences of Bengali words overlapping in form both with and without being morphologically related. Overall, form-related items elicited significantly less priming than morphologically-related items. Form-related items differing in length by a single segment did not prime one another, while morphologically-related items did. However, form-related items matched in length but differing in a single segment did prime, indicating that relationships between formrelated words are not always straightforward.