The mental lexicon LG 103 Introduction to psycholinguistics Celia (Vasiliki) Antoniou What is the mental lexicon? • The mental lexicon is defined as a mental dictionary that contains information regarding a word's meaning, pronunciation, syntactic characteristics, and so on Size • There’s no simple answer to this... • Do we store every single word or just lemmas? • (i.e. drink only, or drink, drinking, drunk, drank, etc...)? Organisation • The mental lexicon differs from the lexicon in that it is not just a general collection of words. • It deals with how those words are activated, stored, processed, and retrieved by each speaker. • What do the previous terms refer to?? • An individual’s mental lexicon changes and grows as new words are learned and is always developing. • However, there are several theorists that argue exactly how this occurs. Organisation • The mental lexicon is not organized alphabetically like a dictionary. • The active nature of the mental lexicon makes any dictionary comparison unhelpful. • It seems to be organized in a more complex manner, with links between phonologically and semantically related lexical items. • How do we know? • A speech error, commonly referred to as a slip of the tongue (Latin: lapsus linguae), is a deviation (conscious or unconscious) from the apparently intended form of an utterance. • Anecdote for antidote LEXICAL DECISION TASK • If you took part in a lexical decision task, what would you be asked to do? • Participants in this task are required to respond as quickly and accurately as possible to a string of letters presented on a screen to say if the string is a non-word or a real word. • They have been used for many years to show how the words are linked in our minds + how the mental lexicon is structured. • It is also called.... Priming So what? • Response time to these words is faster/slower if that word was heard/seen recently??? • Reaction times from this task indicate that certain words are more "active" in participants minds after related words have been presented. • i.e. present the word "bread" to the participant and then see an increased reaction time later to the word "butter". • The word "bread" had activated all related words, including "butter“ so the recognition process was faster. • This increased reaction time demonstrates that related words are stored closely in the mental lexicon. Priming Prime Target Response time nurse Nurse Fast lexical decision Hospital nurse Relatively quick lexical decision lion Nurse Slow lexical decision walked walk 1 entry thought think No priming, they are 2 entries! Back to handouts! Cross – modal priming • What is it? • Prime is presented auditorily, target presented visually on screen • Used to show that by hearing only the first part of a word, all possible continuations are activated! • E.g. on hearing “carp...” both carpet and carpenter are activated! Why and how to use it? • During this task, study participants heard recorded sentences containing lexical or syntactic ambiguities while seated in front of a computer screen. • When the ambiguous word or phrase was uttered in the recording, a simultaneous string of letters, either a word or a non-word, is flashed on the computer screen. • These words usually reflected one or another meaning of an ambiguous word or phrase in the recorded sentence. • Study participants were then asked to respond as quickly as possible once the probes were processed. • The idea is that multiple meanings are activated at the moment an ambiguity is encountered in a sentence, which primes related concepts. • Swinney’s theory (1979) follows that once these related concepts are primed, recognition of them in this task will be quicker than words that are not activated. So, what kind of priming to we have in 2? Any questions??