Chapter published in:All Things Morphology: Its independence and its interfaces
Edited by Sedigheh Moradi, Marcia Haag, Janie Rees-Miller and Andrija Petrovic
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 353] 2021
► pp. 147–168
The suffixing preference
A preliminary report on processing affixes in Georgian
The suffixing preference refers to the observation that cross-linguistically suffixes are more abundant than prefixes (Greenberg 1963). Hawkins & Cutler (1988) explain this preference in part by noting that spoken word recognition relies heavily on the beginnings of words, making it advantageous to have no prefix. To test the Hawkins-Cutler hypothesis in Georgian, we carried out lexical decision experiments, a standard kind of experiment in which the participant is presented with real words and nonce words and must identify which is which. In general, responses to Georgian words with prefixes were more accurate and/or faster than to comparable words with suffixes. These results suggest that prefixes may be easier to process than suffixes, contrary to the universalist claim stated above.
Keywords: suffixing preference, word recognition, processing, lexical decision, Georgian
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