The mental representation of derived words

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The mental representation of derived words
An experimental study of –sa and –mi nominals
in Japanese
Harald Clahsen1 and Yu Ikemoto2
Research Institute for Multilingualism / 2Kwansei Gakuin
Deadjectival nominals with –sa and –mi in Japanese are both phonologically
transparent and morphologically decomposable. However, whilst –sa essentially serves to form nouns out of adjectives, –mi forms function as semantic
labels with specific meanings. We examined –sa and –mi nominals in three
experiments, an eye-movement experiment presenting –sa and –mi forms in
sentence contexts and in two word recognition experiments using (primed and
unprimed) lexical decision, to investigate the nature of their form-level representations. Whilst the word recognition experiments produced the same pattern
of results for –sa and –mi forms, the eye-movement experiment demonstrated
clear differences: –mi forms elicited longer reading times compared to –sa forms,
except when the particular meanings of –mi forms were contextually licensed.
These results show how different semantic properties affect the performance of
derived words that have the same type of word level representation.
Keywords: Derivational morphology, Japanese, eye movement, priming, lexical
representation, lexical access
Derived words have linguistic properties of both lexical entries and combinatorial grammatical processes. On the one hand, the products of derivational processes take on a linguistic life of their own in that they typically have their own
grammatical properties and meanings, much like morphologically simplex words
which have particular meanings and forms stored in lexical entries. On the other
hand, derived words have internal morphological structure, which is arguably a
result of rule-like grammatical operations. Consider, for example, deadjectival
nouns such as agility, reality, curiosity. Although –ity formations are largely unproductive, lexically restricted to adjectives of Latin or Greek origin, and convey
The Mental Lexicon 7:2 (2012), 147–182. doi 10.1075/ml.7.2.02cla
issn 1871–1340 / e-issn 1871–1375 © John Benjamins Publishing Company
148 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
abstract meanings that are not always predictable from their component parts,
–ity derivation yields a morphologically structured word form consisting of an
adjectival stem with a shortened penultimate vowel (compare agile — agility) and
a segmentable suffix.
The present study investigates the precise interplay of whole-word level and
morphologically structured representations during the processing of derived
words. It also contributes to experimental research on derivational morphology
across typologically different languages, by providing new experimental findings
from Japanese, a non-Indo-European language with purely agglutinating morphology. The specific case we examined, –sa and –mi nominalizations in Japanese,
is particularly advantageous for the purpose of this study, as these two derivational
processes have identical form-level but different semantic/functional properties.
On the basis of results from different experiments which test the recognition of
derived words both as single word forms and in sentential contexts, we show how
meaning-related properties of derived words affect their online processing and
how these can be dissociated from effects of their form-level representations.
Linguistic background
Several linguistic accounts of derivational processes assume distinct morpholexical representations for derived words that distinguish them from the products of
inflectional or paradigmatic processes. In Anderson’s (1992) theory of morphology, for example, derivational processes ‘constitute sources for lexical stems’, whereas inflectional processes ‘introduce inflectional material into the surface forms of
words’ (Anderson, 1992, pp. 184–185, emphasis added). Other realization-based
approaches, such as Matthews (1991) and Stump (2001), establish a similar split
between processes that define derivational stem entries and those that define inflected forms. Hence, in contrast to inflection, the outputs of derivational processes are words, that is, entries stored in the lexicon.
Derivational processes also have semantic and functional properties that distinguish them from inflectional processes. One major function of derivational
processes is grammatical recategorization, which involves changes of grammatical
category through nominalizations and other so-called transpositions. In discourse
and texts, grammatical recategorization allows for the condensation of information from larger linguistic expressions into a single complex word. In addition, the
outputs of derivational processes may serve to name concepts or objects, just like
any other lexical item. This has been referred to as the labeling or onomasiological function of word-formation patterns (Kastovsky, 1986; Plag, 2003). For illustration, consider the two nouns [[cold]Adj]N and [[cold]Adj –ness]N. Both involve
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Derived nominals in Japanese 149
deadjectival nominalization processes, (Adj → N) conversion for the former and
–ness suffixation for the latter, the output of both of which is a lexical item. At
another level, however, the two forms are different. The derived word coldness denotes a property of the base word, the state of being cold, a simple case of recategorization. By contrast, the derived word the cold refers to the more specific concepts
of low temperature or the particular illness of a catarrh. Such cases of ‘labeling’
yield semantically richer and often idiosyncratic meanings that are not predictable from their grammatical components. These functional differences between
derived words correspond to differences in productivity, with the labeling type
being less productive than the recategorization one.
Previous experimental research
The psycholinguistic study of derivational morphology investigates the representation of derived words in the lexicon and in accessing these representations during
word recognition. Previous experimental research has examined both form and
meaning-level properties of derived words, ‘…not always with the clearest and most
systematic outcomes’ (Marslen-Wilson, 2007, p. 182). The insight from linguistic
morphology that derived word forms may have morpholexical representations
distinct from those of inflected forms has had little impact on previous psycholinguistic research. Instead, experimental studies of derived words have asked the
same questions and examined the same factors as for inflected words, investigating
for example, the role of lexical storage versus morphological (de)composition in
recognizing derived words and how frequency, length, and semantic transparency
of a derived word as a whole and its component parts influence processing.
Experimental evidence showing that the lexical representations of some (but
not all) derived word forms maintain their morphological structure comes, for
example, from priming experiments in different Indo-European languages. In
English, pairs like darkness → dark or unhappy → happy with largely compositional
meanings yielded significant stem-priming effects in cross-modal priming experiments, signaling morphological (stem+affix) decomposition during processing. In
contrast to such cases in which the relationship between the derived form and
its stem is transparent, semantically opaque pairs such as department → depart
produce smaller (cross-modal) priming effects or even fail to show any stem priming (Marslen-Wilson, Tyler, Waksler, & Older, 1994; Feldman, 2000; among others). Similar contrasts have been found for French (Longtin, Segui, & Hallé, 2003)
and Polish (Reid & Marslen-Wilson, 2003). Other studies, however, found (crossmodal) priming effects for both transparent and opaque derived word forms (e.g.,
Zwitserlood, Bolwiender, & Drews, 2005). Likewise, in masked priming experiments in which prime words are only presented for a short period of time of 30
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150 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
to 60ms (Longtin et al., 2003; Rastle, Davis, & New, 2004), some studies reported significant priming effects for semantically transparent derived pairs and reduced priming effects for semantically opaque derived prime words (Diependaele,
Sandra, & Grainger, 2005; Feldman, O’Connor, & Moscoso del Prado Martín,
2009). Other studies, however, found the same significant (masked) priming effects for semantically transparent and semantically opaque derived prime words
(Longtin et al., 2003; Rastle et al., 2004); see Davis and Rastle (2010) for discussion.
The picture is further complicated by findings indicating language-particular differences in the processing of derived words. Whilst most studies of IndoEuropean languages obtained stronger stem priming for derived words with
compositional meanings than for opaque derived word forms in cross-modal and
other overt priming experiments, but not in masked priming, experimental studies of Arabic and Hebrew showed overt priming effects for both types of derived
words (Boudelaa & Marslen-Wilson, 2005; Frost, Deutsch, Gilboa, Tannenbaum,
& Marslen-Wilson, 2000). In Arabic, for example, opaque derived words such as
katiibatun ‘squadron’ were found to prime root-related word forms such as kaataba ‘correspond’ in the same way as transparently related derived words such
as maktabatun ‘library’. Thus in Semitic languages, the lexical representations of
both opaque and semantically transparent derived words appear to maintain their
morphological structure. In contrast to that, several experimental studies of derived word forms in Finnish suggested a strong influence of whole-word properties on processing, despite their largely agglutinating structure. Results from lexical decision experiments, for example, showed weak base frequency effects and
strong word-form frequency effects for different kinds of derived words in Finnish
(Bertram, Laine, & Karvinen, 1999; Vannest, Bertram, Järvikivi, & Niemi, 2002).
Likewise, results from eye-movement experiments (Hyönä, Laine, & Niemi, 1995)
and patient studies (Laine, Niemi, Koivuselkä-Sallinen, & Hyönä, 1995) did not
reveal any differences between productively derived word forms and monomorphemic control words. These results could mean that unlike in Indo-European
languages, derived words in Finnish are stored and accessed as full forms irrespective of their morphological structure or productivity.
These and other partly conflicting results have led to a variety of theoretical
accounts of morphological processing, which are thought to apply to both inflected and derived words. Some proposals deny any role for morphological structure
and instead argue that inflected and derived words are represented and processed
like morphologically simple words, in terms of their phonological, orthographic,
and semantic codes (e.g., Seidenberg & Gonnerman, 2000). An alternative account posits a form-based decompositional mechanism that segments derived
words into smaller morphemic or non-morphemic parts and a later lemma level
that contains representations for polymorphemic words (e.g., viewer) which are
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Derived nominals in Japanese 151
activated via the lemmas of their constituent morphemes (e.g., Taft, 2004; Taft &
Forster, 1975). A third position is represented by a family of dual mechanism accounts according to which morphologically complex word forms are processed
both as whole forms and in a decomposed format (e.g., Burani & Caramazza,
1987; Schreuder & Baayen, 1995).
Although most previous psycholinguistic research on derivational morphology studied derived words in isolation, there are also a few studies that have examined derived words in context. Baayen and Neijt (1997) looked at the use of nominalizations with the Dutch suffix –heid in newspaper texts. They found that the
different functions of –heid forms are correlated with their frequencies in written
texts. Whilst the highest-frequency formations were cases in which –heid forms
functioned as a semantic label with a specific meaning (e.g., snelheid ‘speed’), the
lowest-frequency formations were cases in which the derived form had a clearly
transparent meaning (e.g., onregeerbaarheid ‘ungovernableness’). Baayen and Neijt
(1997, p. 584) attributed this contrast to different lexical representations, decomposed ones for the latter (hence their compositional meanings), and whole-word
representations for the former (hence their specific meanings, e.g., for snelheid).
Experimental studies investigating derived words in context have used the eyemovement monitoring technique; see Pollatsek and Hyönä (2006) and Bertram
(2011) for reviews. These studies manipulated properties of derived words’ roots
and affixes, in particular their frequency and length, to determine whether they are
processed as wholes and/or through their component parts. Niswander, Pollatsek,
and Rayner (2000) reported shorter reading times for English derived words
with high (compared to low) root morpheme frequency and for those with high
(compared to low) whole-word frequency. The root-frequency effect was found
for early and the whole-word frequency effect for later eye-movement measures.
Niswander-Klement and Pollatsek (2006) found that root frequency effects for prefixed derived words in English were modulated by word length, with significant
effects for longer but not for shorter prefixed words. Pollatsek, Slattery, and Juhasz
(2008) also reported root frequency effects for existing and novel prefixed derived
words in English. Kuperman, Bertram, and Baayen (2010) examined the role of suffix length in derived Dutch words, showing that whole-word-level effects are more
prominent for derived words with short than with long suffixes. Furthermore, eyemovement studies suggest that some previously reported effects might be specific
to the recognition of derived words in isolation. Results from lexical decision tasks,
for example, led to the claim that homonymous affixes (e.g., -er in warm-er vs.
view-er) or affixes that are similar to non-morphemic word endings are more likely
to yield whole-word storage than unambiguous affixes (e.g., Laudanna & Burani,
1995). However, Kuperman et al.’s (2010) eye-movement experiment tested these
kinds of derivational affixes in sentential contexts and did not find any modulation
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152 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
of the reading patterns by factors such as affix homonymy and affix confusability,
indicating that in sentential contexts in which readers may be able to anticipate
its morphosyntactic function, the potential ambiguity of an affix is less disruptive
compared to the recognition of the same word form in isolation.
Japanese derivational morphology: Linguistic properties and previous
experimental research
The specific phenomenon the current study examines is deadjectival nominalizations with –sa and –mi. These two processes produce word forms with segmentable
stems and affixes and without any kind of stem or affix allomorphy, but differ in
terms of their productivity and semantic properties. Suffixation with –sa is highly
productive and can apply to any adjective including novel words, borrowings from
other languages, derived adjectives, and compounds. By contrast, –mi formations
are restricted to 30 high-frequency adjectives (Ito & Sugioka, 2002) and do not apply
to novel words or to derived forms and compounds. Furthermore, formations with
–mi have largely unpredictable meanings expressing particular sensations, feelings,
or locations (Nishio, 1995; Huang, 2004; Yamaguchi, 2007). Formations with –sa,
by contrast, have compositional meanings denoting the degree of X-ness or the state
of being X of a given adjective X. Consider for illustration the contrast in (1).
(1) a.
tiimuwaaku no yosa ga watasitati no tuyo-mi da.
team work Gen goodness Nom we Gen virtue is
‘The quality of our team work is our virtue’
konkai no taihuu wa kogata de nami no tuyo-sa da.
this time Gen typhoon Top small and average Gen strength is
‘The current typhoon is small and has average strength’
The italicized nominals tuyo-mi and tuyo-sa are both derived from the adjective
tuyo-i ‘strong’. However, whilst tuyo-sa simply refers to the degree of strength (in
the case of (1b), of the typhoon), tuyo-mi has an abstract meaning denoting a
virtue or talent. Fujii (2008) observed that due to their idiosyncratic meanings,
-mi (but not –sa) nominals are typically listed in dictionaries. To confirm these
intuitions, we conducted a semantic relatedness rating task in which 18 –sa and
18 –mi forms were presented with their base forms (e.g., tuyo-i ‘strong’ — tuyo-sa
‘strength’) and 19 native speakers of Japanese were asked to rate to what extent
the two words overlap in meaning, using a scale from ‘1’ (= no overlap at all) to
‘7’ (nearly identical). Results revealed significantly lower semantic overlap ratings
for –mi than for –sa forms (4.4 vs. 4.56, t1(18) = 2.2, p < .05; t2(34) = 2.66, p < .05)
reflecting the fact that –mi forms are semantically more opaque than –sa forms.
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Derived nominals in Japanese 153
There are a few previous psycholinguistic studies on –sa and –mi nominals.
Hagiwara, Sugioka, Ito, Kawamura, and Shiota (1999) obtained offline experimental data from native speakers of Japanese (normal adult controls, patients with
Broca’s aphasia, patients with amnestic aphasia). Participants were asked to select
either a –sa or a –mi form for existing and novel adjectives in two semantic context
conditions, contexts with meanings that were supposed to favour –sa forms and
contexts with meanings that promote –mi forms. All participant groups’ performance on existing forms was similar in that –mi forms were preferred in –mi and
–sa forms in –sa contexts. However, their performance on novel words revealed
differences. For normal controls, –sa derivations yielded higher overall acceptability scores than –mi forms, except when the context was compatible with –mi
forms. Dissociations between –sa and –mi nominals were also found among the
aphasic patients. Patients with Broca’s aphasia showed normal performance for –
mi, selecting –mi forms in –mi contexts, but they performed at chance level on –sa
forms. By contrast, patients with amnestic aphasia preferred –sa forms across the
board, even in –mi contexts. Hagiwara et al. (1999) took these results as evidence
that the two types of nominal involve two neurologically dissociated systems, a
rule-governed computational system for –sa suffixation, which is impaired in patients with Broca’s aphasia, and an associative memory system for –mi suffixation,
which is impaired in patients with amnestic aphasia.
Kanamaru, Kobayashi, and Ito (2005) reported results from an unprimed lexical decision experiment on –sa, and a cross-modal priming experiment on –sa
and –mi. They obtained shorter lexical decision times for high- than for low-frequency –sa forms, suggesting that –sa forms access whole-word representations
in unprimed lexical decision. They also found more efficient stem priming for –sa
than for –mi forms, indicating that –sa forms are more easily decomposable than
–mi forms in cross-modal priming.
Whilst these studies provide some insights into how derived word forms are
represented and processed in Japanese, the interpretation of the experimental
results and the observed differences between –sa and –mi forms is not straightforward. Firstly, although Hagiwara et al.’s (1999) findings might indicate different types of form-level representations for –sa and –mi words, it is also possible that the reported contrast correspond to their different semantic properties.
Furthermore, Hagiwara et al. (1999) used different critical items for the two context conditions, not matched for frequency. Secondly, Kanamaru et al.’s (2005) lexical decision experiment leaves open the question of whether –mi forms produce
the same or different frequency effects as –sa forms. Finally, the contrast in (crossmodal) priming that Kanamaru et al. (2005) obtained might be due to different
types of form-level representations and/or different semantic properties of these
derived words.
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154 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
Against this background, we present a detailed examination of –sa and –
mi nominalizations in Japanese using three different experimental techniques.
Experiment 1 examined –sa and –mi in context, focusing on the role of their different semantic properties. Experiments 2 and 3 examined –sa and –mi nominalizations in primed and unprimed lexical decision tasks, to determine the role of
whole-word knowledge and of their morphological constituents for their recognition. Participants for these experiments were adult native speakers of Japanese
recruited from the student populations of the University of Essex (UK) and the
Kwansei Gakuin University (Japan). A number of participants (n=20) took part in
more than one experiment, but the results are unlikely to be affected as there was
an interval of at least four months between each experiment.
Experiment 1: Eye-movements during reading
The purpose of this experiment was to investigate how the online processing of
–sa and –mi nominals is affected by their different semantic properties. To this
end, –sa and –mi forms were tested within two-sentence contexts. Experiment
1 specifically tapped the specific meanings of –mi forms using different context
conditions. In the –mi context condition, the particular semantic labels of existing –mi words were targeted by the contents of the first sentence. In the ‘no –mi
context’ condition, the first sentence had different contents, inconsistent with the
specific meanings of –mi forms.
Participants read a series of paragraphs containing –sa and –mi nominals
whilst their eye-movements were monitored. Monitoring eye-movements during
reading provides a rich source of data to examine different stages of moment-tomoment language processing (Rayner, Warren, Juhasz, & Liversedge, 2004; Staub
& Rayner, 2007; Sturt, 2003). For the present experiment, five reading time measures were calculated for the target region, that is the derived word form. First fixation durations, the initial time reading a particular region of text, as well as gaze
durations, the summed duration of initial fixations within a target region before
the eyes move to another portion of text, are indexing early stages of processing.
Regression path durations, the summed fixation duration from when the target
region is first fixated until the eyes move to the right, include the duration of any
regressive fixations, and reflect slightly later stages of processing. Rereading times,
the duration of all refixations within a target region after it has been exited to either the left or right for the first time, index late, second-pass stages of processing.
Finally, total reading times, the summed duration of all fixations within a critical
region, provide a general index of processing load. Taken together, these measures
represent a continuum from early to late stages of processing.
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Derived nominals in Japanese 155
Because –mi forms have idiosyncratic meanings, we expect them to show sensitivity to context, which should be reflected by overall longer reading times for
–mi than for –sa forms, except when the context is compatible with the particular
meaning of a –mi form. Of particular interest are insights into the time-course of
processing of different properties of derived words provided by the various eyemovement measures. Assuming that the outputs of derivational processes are potential units of lexical storage, the context manipulation should affect eye-movement measures (e.g., gaze durations) that are believed to be sensitive to processes
involved in lexical retrieval, yielding shorter reading times for –mi forms when
their particular meanings are compatible with the preceding context than in contexts in which this was not the case.
Participants. Forty-five students (10 males, 35 females, mean age: 25.4) participated in this experiment. All were native speakers of Japanese and had normal or
corrected-to-normal vision.
Materials. Sixteen adjectives with their neutral conjugational affix (= -i) were
each introduced in two context conditions, ‘–mi compatible’ contexts with meanings consistent with those of existing –mi forms, and ‘no (–mi) compatible’ contexts which were inconsistent with the specific meanings of –mi forms. Examples
of experimental trials are shown in (2); a complete list of the critical stimuli is
shown in appendix A. The context conditions had the same schematic structure
consisting of two sentences each. The first sentence introduced an adjective, e.g.,
kusa-i ‘smelly’ (shown in (2) underlined) in sentence-final position. The second
sentence contained a –sa or a –mi form (underlined) as a direct object, and was
otherwise identical.
(2) a. –mi context: –mi form
夫が今日釣ってきた川魚は臭い。 妻は上手にその臭みを取り除く。
Otto-ga kyou tutteki-ta kawazakana-wa kusai. Tuma-wa zyozuni sono
kusa-mi-o torinozoku.
‘The river fish the husband caught today is smelly. His wife gets rid of
the bad smell (smelliness) very well.’
b. –mi context: –sa form
夫が今日釣ってきた川魚は臭い。 妻は上手にその臭さを取り除く。
Otto-ga kyou tutteki-ta kawazakana-wa kusai. Tuma-wa zyozuni sono
kusa-sa-o torinozoku.
‘The river fish the husband caught today is smelly. His wife gets rid of
the bad smell (smelliness) very well.’
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156 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
c. no (-mi) context: –mi form
愛煙家である夫の部屋は臭い。 妻は上手にその臭みを取り除く。
Aienka de aru otto-no heya-wa kusai. Tuma-wa zyozuni sono kusa-mi-o
‘The room of the heavy smoking husband is smelly. His wife gets rid of
the bad smell (smelliness) very well.
d. no (-mi) context: –sa form
愛煙家である夫の部屋は臭い。 妻は上手にその臭さを取り除く。
Aienka de aru otto-no heya-wa kusai. Tuma-wa zyozuni sono kusa-sa-o
‘The room of the heavy smoking husband is smelly. His wife gets rid of
the bad smell (smelliness) very well.
Whilst a context such as (2a) which denotes the (bad) smell of a fish is consistent
with the particular meaning of the corresponding –mi form of kusa-i ‘smelly’, this
is not the case for the context in (2c). Each of the 16 adjectives was presented in
the two contexts with a –sa and a –mi form, yielding four experimental conditions.
As illustrated in (2), the two contexts were distinguished by manipulating the subjects of the first sentence (the river fish vs. the room), which introduce different
referents for the deadjectival noun in the second clause. All other properties of the
context were held constant. Care was taken to ensure that the second sentence on
its own sounds natural with both –sa and –mi forms, and that the verbs in both
sentences do not provide any bias for either affix. The context manipulation was
also pre-tested in an offline acceptability judgment task. Thirty-two participants
were instructed to read each context sentence, and to rate the –sa and –mi forms
in the second sentence on a scale from 1 (highly unacceptable) to 7 (fully acceptable). Results revealed significantly higher acceptability ratings for –mi forms in
expected than in unexpected contexts (means: 5.71 vs. 3.55; t1(31) = 6.71, p < .001;
t2(15) = 5.78, p < .001), whereas for –sa forms there was no significant difference
between the two contexts conditions (means: 5.70 vs. 5.80; t1/t2 < 1). These pre-test
results confirm the intended context manipulation in that –mi compatible contexts elicited a clear preference for –mi forms, whereas –sa forms fit both contexts.
The critical –sa/–mi items were identical in length and closely matched for
(word-form) frequency, based on the Amano and Kondo’s (2003) Nihongo no
Goitokusei (’Lexical properties of Japanese’) database consisting of more than
340,000 words collected from a Japanese newspaper between 1985 and 1998. The
mean word-form frequencies (per million) were 3.71 for the –sa and 5.03 for the
–mi forms, a non-significant difference (t(15) < 1). In addition to the 16 experimental items, 48 filler texts were constructed, 16 of which with the same sentence
structure as the experimental items, but with a simple noun instead of a –sa/–mi
form in the second sentence, and 32 filler texts comprising a variety of different
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Derived nominals in Japanese 157
constructions. The experimental and filler items were pseudo-randomized ensuring that experimental items from the same condition did not appear adjacent to
each other. To ensure that each participant saw a critical item only once, different
presentation lists were created. Each list was completed by the same number of
Procedure, data scoring, and analysis. All stimuli were presented in Mincho
24 and consisted of two lines with 15 to 16 characters each and spaces between
each character. The critical –sa/–mi words (followed by a case marker) appeared
in the center of the screen within the second sentence. An example stimulus as
presented to participants is shown in (3); this example is identical to (2a) above.
(3) Example stimulus
Participants were instructed to read the sentences at their normal reading speed,
to sit still during the experiment, and to press a button when they completed a
trial. Simple content questions requiring a yes/no push-button response were displayed after all experimental items and half of the fillers; for the trials shown in
(2a) and (2b), for example, the comprehension question was: ‘Did the husband go
fishing in the sea?’ The mean correctness score for these questions was 93.5% (SD:
4.18) indicating that participants paid attention to the content of the sentences.
Eye-movements were recorded using the head-mounted EYELINK II system.
Sentences were presented onscreen about 80cm from the participants’ eyes, and at
this viewing distance one onscreen character subtended approximately one degree
of visual angle. Two cameras mounted on a headband placed over the participants’
head recorded eye-movements at a sampling rate of 500Hz, with spatial accuracy
better than 0.5 degrees. A third camera mounted in the center of the headband
automatically compensated participants’ head movements. Although participant
reading was binocular, eye-movements were recorded from the right eye only.
There were 5 practice trials before the actual experiment to familiarise participants
with the experiment. They were allowed to have 3 breaks during the experiment.
The whole experiment lasted approximately 20 minutes.
One participant’s data were excluded due to tracker loss. Fixations of less than
50ms that were within one degree of another fixation were merged with a neighboring fixation. Trials where the critical region was not fixated before entering a later
region were discounted from the analysis and treated as missing data, which affected 1.4% of data. Reading times that were 2.5 standard deviations below or above a
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158 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
participant’s mean reading time per condition were excluded from any further analysis, which affected 2.9% of data. Mean RTs for each participant (F1) and each item
(F2) of the remaining data were submitted to ANOVAs with the variables Context
(–mi, no–mi) and Suffix (–sa, –mi) followed by two-tailed planned comparisons,
again for participants (t1) and items (t2), in case of Context-by-Suffix interactions.
To directly examine context effects, reading times for –mi and –sa forms were
compared within the two context conditions, those that were biased towards the
specific meanings of –mi forms and those that were not. This required comparing
reading times for different lexical items, which is of course not ideal. Yet, care was
taken to reduce differences as much as possible, for example, by matching the two
forms for length and frequency. We therefore believe that a direct comparison of
–mi and –sa forms in the two context conditions is legitimate.
The overall first-pass fixation probability for the critical region in the –sa/-mi conditions was 98.67%, with no significant differences between conditions (all Fs < 1;
–sa/no–mi context: 99.24%, –mi/no–mi context: 98.86%, –sa/–mi context: 97.73%,
–mi/–mi context: 98.86%). Condition means and standard deviations (based on
the participant analysis) are shown in Table 1, planned comparisons in Table 2.
Table 1. Mean durations (and standard deviations) in ms of five reading time measures
for the –sa/–mi word region
first fixation durations
regression path durations
total reading times
–mi compatible context
no bias
Whilst the data in Table 1 shows similar reading times across conditions for first
fixation durations, differences between –sa and –mi in the two context conditions
are seen for the other measures. For first fixations, the ANOVAs did not yield any
main effects or interactions (Context: F1(1, 43) = 2.34, MSE = 509.89, p = .13; F2(1,
15) = 1.47, MSE = 281.33, p = .24; Suffix: F1/F2 < 1, Context-by-Suffix: F1/F2 < 1).
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Derived nominals in Japanese 159
Table 2. Pairwise comparisons of the reading times of -sa vs. -mi forms in two context
regression path durations
total reading times
-mi compatible context
t1(43)=1.85, p=.071
t2(15)=1.43, p=.174
t1(43)=2.45, p<.05
t2(15)=2.05, p=.059
t1(43)=1.67, p=.103
t2(15)=1.26, p=.227
no bias
t1(43)=2.06, p<.05
t2(15)=1.80, p=.093
t1(43)=3.16, p<.01
t2(15)=2.34, p<.05
t1(43)=2.47, p<.05
t2(15)=2.52, p<.05
In contrast, significant Context-by-Suffix interactions were found for gaze durations (F1(1, 43) = 5.61, MSE = 6522.11, p < .05; F2(1, 15) = 5.24, MSE = 2930.48,
p < .05), regression path durations (F1(1, 43) = 14.61, MSE = 9011.57, p < .001;
F2(1, 15) = 9.15, MSE = 5685.36, p < .01), and total reading times (F1(1, 43) = 10.12,
MSE = 11056.99, p < .01; F2(1, 15) = 18.42, MSE = 2352.10, p < .01), but not for rereading times (F1/F2 < 1). The planned comparisons in Table 2 show that these interactions are due to significantly longer reading times for –mi than for –sa word
forms in the no–mi context and shorter reading times for –mi than for –sa forms
in the –mi context condition.
In addition, a significant main effect of Context was found for rereading
times (F1(1, 43) = 9.08, MSE = 5114.10, p < .05; F2(1, 15) = 4.72, MSE = 4384.92,
p < .05) and (marginally significant) for total reading times (F1(1, 43) = 3.34,
MSE = 11498.22, p = .074; F2(1, 15) = 4.37, MSE = 5749.37, p = .054), due to shorter
overall reading times in –mi contexts for these measures. For gaze and regression
path durations, there was no such effect of Context (all Fs < 1). Finally, there were
no main effects of Suffix for any of the five measures (all Fs < 1).
The most interesting finding from this experiment is that although in –mi
contexts both –mi and –sa forms were equally acceptable off-line, eye-movement
measures showed an advantage for –mi forms in these contexts. In –mi contexts,
gaze and regression path durations yielded significantly shorter reading times for
–mi than for –sa forms. This effect is, however, short-lived, as can be seen from
the rereading times, a measure tapping into later stages of processing, for which
the earlier advantage for –mi forms has disappeared. Otherwise, reading times
were longer for –mi than for –sa forms or did not yield any reliable differences.
Furthermore, in no–mi contexts, all measures elicited longer reading times for –mi
than for –sa forms, due to the contexts’ incompatibility with the specific meanings
of –mi forms.
These results indicate a significant advantage from the context during early
stages of recognising –mi forms. Recall that gaze and regression path durations are
relatively early eye-movement measures that are sensitive to processes involved
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160 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
in lexical retrieval and the integration of the material in the current target region
with the preceding text (Rayner et al., 2004; Sturt, 2003). Rereading times, on the
other hand, reflect later, second-pass stages of processing which are delayed in
relation to measures that signal a region’s first encounter. We attribute the context
effect to the specific semantic properties of –mi forms, which are stored as part of
their lexical entries. Due to these properties, lexical retrieval of –mi forms is facilitated by an appropriate semantic context. On the other hand, –sa is a default form
(see Hagiwara et al., 1999) that is not semantically constrained in the same way as
–mi forms. Hence, –sa forms generalise to different contexts and their recognition
does not require any particular semantic licensing.
The eye-movement experiment showed reading time differences between –sa
and –mi forms that correspond to their different semantic properties. To test for
form-level effects, experiments 2 and 3 employed primed and unprimed lexical decision tasks which are commonly used in psycholinguistic research to determine
the contributions of whole-word and component part properties for morphological processing.
Experiment 2: Unprimed lexical decision
The present experiment employed an unprimed visual lexical task to examine
word-form frequency effects for –sa and –mi forms. The items selected for this
experiment had different (high or low) word-form frequencies but were matched
for their base (adjective) frequencies. Lexical decision encourages participants to
rely on their lexical memory, as it requires a decision between existing words (that
have been encountered before) and nonce words (that have never been encountered before). Thus, due to its task demands, lexical decision is likely to tap into
potential whole-word representations of inflected or derived word forms. If both
–sa and –mi forms access full-form representations, we would expect word-form
frequency effects of the same size for both of them, i.e., shorter response times for
high than for low-frequency –sa and –mi forms.
Participants. Twenty students (8 males, 12 females, mean age: 25.1) participated
in the experiment. All were native speakers of Japanese and had normal or corrected-to-normal vision.
Materials. The stimulus set consisted of 240 items, 50% novel, 50% existing
words. There were 24 –sa and 24 –mi forms divided into two subgroups of 12 items
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Derived nominals in Japanese 161
each, according to their word-form frequency, a high and a low (derived form)
frequency group. In each of the two frequency subgroups, the items were matched
with respect to base frequencies. Frequency counts were taken from Amano and
Kondo (2003). This resulted in the four conditions shown in (4). A complete list of
critical experimental items and their frequencies is shown in appendix B. Pairwise
statistical comparisons did not yield any significant differences between the –sa/
low versus –mi/low or between the –sa/high versus –mi/high conditions, either for
word-form frequency, base frequency, or length (all ts < 1.). To prevent participants from developing expectations during the experiment, 192 filler items were
added to the 48 experimental items. The list of filler items included 120 non-words
and 72 word-fillers consisting of 12 deverbal nouns and 60 verbs. The 240 stimuli
were presented in a pseudo-randomized order making sure that no semantic association of any kind existed between consecutive items and that items of the same
condition did not occur in sequence.
(4) Four experimental conditions
–sa high
–sa low
–mi high
–mi low
Base frequency* Word-form
29.98 (38.27)
8.28 (7.63)
29.76 (33.42)
.34 (.27)
29.24 (21.65)
7.94 (6.90)
29.74 (74.94)
.33 (.30)
(in moras)
3.67 (.78)
3.50 (.67)
3.42 (.51)
3.33 (.78)
Stimulus Example
広さ hiro-sa ‘width’
緩さ yuru-sa ‘looseness’
重み omo-mi ‘heaviness’
臭み kusa-mi ‘smelliness’
* means per million words; standard deviations in parenthesis
Procedure, data scoring, and analysis. Each trial started with a fixation point appearing for 500ms in the middle of the screen followed after 500ms of blank screen
by the stimulus in the same position. The stimulus remained on screen either until
a response button was pressed or disappeared after 750ms if no response was given. The next trial was initiated 1,000ms after the response or time-out. The stimuli
were presented in normal (Kanji & Hiragana) script in Mincho 24 point on a 14
inch monitor in white letters on a black background. Participants were instructed
to decide whether a given letter string was a real Japanese word or a non-word and
to press the appropriate ‘yes’ (for existing words) or ‘no’ (for non-words) button
on a dual push-button box, with ‘yes’ responses always made by the participants’
dominant hand. They were asked to answer as quickly and accurately as possible.
The experiment began with a short practice session consisting of 10 trials. The
presentation of the stimuli and the measurement of response times (RTs) were
controlled by the DMDX software package (Forster & Forster, 2003). The experiment was performed in a dedicated, quiet room and lasted for approximately 20
minutes. Before the experiment, participants were given detailed instructions
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162 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
about the task. Prior to the calculation of lexical decision times, incorrect responses (i.e., erroneous word/non-word decisions) and timeouts were excluded from
any further analysis; these accounted for 6.4% of the critical items. Mean RTs for
each participant (F1) and each item (F2) were submitted to two ANOVAs with the
variables (High vs. Low) and Suffix (-sa vs. –mi).
The mean response times and error rates are shown in Table 3.
Table 3. Mean RTs (in ms), SDs (in parentheses), and error rates in Experiment 2
High Frequency
536 (63)
540 (73)
Low Frequency
596 (73)
583 (95)
For the error data, there was a main effect of Frequency, (F1(1, 19) = 8.54,
MSE = 97.78, p < .01; F2(1, 44) = 14.9, MSE = 35.8, p < .001) which was due to higher error rates for low-frequency words in both the –sa and the –mi conditions
(–sa/high vs. –sa/low: t1(19) = 2.43, p < .05; t2(22) = 2.88, p < .01; –mi/high vs. –mi/
low: t1(19) = 2.78, p < .05; t2(22) = 2.57, p < .05). There were no further main effects or interactions in the error data (all Fs < 1). The ANOVAs for the RT data
also revealed a main effect of Frequency (F1(1, 19) = 57.53, MSE = 922.55, p < .001;
F2(1,44) = 18.64, MSE = 2010.9, p < .001) and no main effect of Suffix (both F1/
F2 < 1) or Frequency-by-Suffix interaction (F1(1, 19) = 1.7, MSE = 882.1, p = .207;
F2(1, 44) = .48, MSE = 2010.93, p = .49). The main effect of Frequency is due to
shorter RTs for high than for low-frequency words in both the –sa and the –mi
conditions (–sa/high vs. –sa/low: t1(19) = 8.91, p < .001; t2(22) = 3.14, p < .01; –mi/
high vs. –mi/low: t1(19) = 3.7, p < .005; t2(22) = 3.01, p < .01). A measure of effect
size (Cohen’s d) showed large word-form frequency effects for both –mi (d = 1.28)
and –sa word forms (d = 1.34).
These results demonstrate word-form frequency effects for –sa and –mi forms,
which suggest that they both access whole-word representations during visual
word recognition. Note, however, that there are limitations on what can be concluded from frequency effects in the lexical decision task. Firstly, lexical decision
experiments on morphologically complex words have produced a mixed set of results. Whilst some studies reported whole-word frequency effects across the entire
frequency range (Baayen, Wurm, & Aycock, 2007), others consistently obtained
whole-word frequency effects for irregularly, but not for regularly inflected words,
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Derived nominals in Japanese 163
except for a small number of cases with very high frequencies (Alegre & Gordon,
1999a; Soveri, Lehtonen, & Laine, 2007). Secondly, with respect to the present
study, although whole-word frequency effects were found for the kinds of simple
existing deadjectival word forms tested, this may not necessarily be the case for
more complex nominalizations that include compounds and other agglutinated
forms with productive affixes (e.g., dama-sare-yasu-sa ‘easy-to be-deceived- ness’).
For these kinds of complex derived word forms (which all require –sa suffixation),
whole-word representations are unlikely to exist (Hagiwara et al., 1999). Finally,
the finding that existing deadjectival forms with –sa and –mi are both sensitive
to whole-word properties does not necessarily mean that their word-form representations are of the same kind. Specifically, word-form representations may or
may not be internally structured, and the results of this experiment do not tell us
whether –sa and/or –mi forms are stored unanalyzed or whether they have structured representations. Experiment 3 addresses this question.
Experiment 3: Masked priming
To determine morphological decomposition in processing –sa and –mi word
forms, we used the masked priming technique (Forster & Davis, 1984) in which
a prime word is briefly presented (commonly with a ‘stimulus onset asynchrony’
(SOA) of 30 to 80ms) between a forward mask and an unmasked target word to
which participants respond with a lexical (word/non-word) decision. The short
SOAs do not usually allow participants to consciously recognize the prime and
reduce the possibility of episodic memory effects or of any predictive strategies.
Furthermore, masked priming experiments with short SOAs are believed to more
directly tap into form-level morphological decomposition than other priming
techniques. Using this technique, several previous studies found morphological
priming effects for inflected and derived word forms in different languages that
were dissociated from any facilitation due to the orthographic and/or semantic
overlap between primes and targets (e.g., Marslen-Wilson, 2007). Moreover, several studies found that semantically unrelated prime-target pairs such as cornercorn in which the prime contained a pseudo-affix (-er) produce facilitation effects
in masked priming experiments similar to those of truly related prime-target pairs
such as driver-drive (e.g., Rastle, Davis, Marslen-Wilson, & Tyler, 2000; Rastle et
al., 2004). These results suggest that the presence of a potential affix in a prime
word triggers morphological (form-level) decomposition, irrespective of the
word’s meaning or function (Davis & Rastle, 2010).
For Japanese, Kanamaru et al. (2005) reported more efficient priming effects for –sa than for –mi forms in a cross-modal priming experiment with overt
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164 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
(auditory) primes, which may be due to their form-level and/or their semantic
properties. The present experiment seeks to examine whether a priming technique
that more directly taps into form-level processes than cross-modal priming also
produces priming differences for –sa and –mi forms.
Participants. Thirty students (8 males, 22 females, mean age: 26.2) participated in
the experiment. All were native speakers of Japanese and had normal or correctedto-normal vision.
Materials. Forty eight pairs of primes and targets were constructed for two
experimental conditions, 24 each for the critical –sa and –mi conditions. An example stimulus of test and control trials is shown in (5) and the complete list of
critical prime-target pairs in appendix C.
(5) Example stimulus set
よわみ yowami ‘weakness’
つらい turai ‘hard’
やすさ yasusa ‘cheapness’
あわい awai ‘pale’
yowai ‘weak’
yasui ‘cheap’
To ensure that all parts of the stimulus words were spelled in the same way, prime
and target words were presented in the Hiragana script, as illustrated in (5). It
is true that Japanese readers are typically exposed to the mixed Kanji-Hiragana
script. For the purpose of present experiment, however, the mixed script has the
disadvantage of providing a direct visual cue to the derived word’s structure.
Consider, for example, yowami ‘weakness’, which in the mixed script form (弱み)
consists of the Kanji 弱 ‘weak’ and the suffix み ‘mi’ spelled in a different script.
Thus, presentation of the stimuli in the mixed script would have made it difficult
to distinguish between purely visual segmentation and morphological decomposition. We acknowledge, however, that words entirely spelled in Hiragana are
unusual in Japanese and may elicit different processing behavior. To address this
concern, an additional masked priming experiment was performed to determine
whether any priming effect for –sa and –mi forms that was obtained in the main
experiment could be replicated with the same words spelled in the mixed script.
All targets in the –sa and –mi conditions were –i forms of adjectives and the
(morphologically related) Test primes were the corresponding deadjectival nouns
with –sa or –mi. In addition to the Test primes, an unrelated word form was used
as a prime for each target. Potential priming effects were determined by comparing
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Derived nominals in Japanese 165
the mean RT to the target word following the Test prime with those following
Unrelated primes. The ‘Unrelated’ prime condition reflects the baseline RT for a
given lexical item. The primes and targets in the critical –sa and –mi conditions
were matched as closely as possible for frequency and length. The targets’ mean
length (in moras) was 3.33 for –sa and 3.17 for –mi, and their mean word-form
frequency (per million) was 27.37 for –sa and 19.13 for –mi. Two-tailed t-tests
did not reveal any significant differences between conditions, either for length
(t(23) = 1.28, p = .21) or for frequency (t(23) = 1.23, p = .23). The Unrelated and Test
primes were also matched across critical conditions for both length and word-form
frequency; Unrelated: length (–sa: 3.33, –mi: 3.17, t(23) = 1.28, p = .21), frequency
(–sa: 57.01, –mi: 60.84, t(23)<1); Test: length (–sa: 3.33, –mi: 3.17, t(23) = 1.28,
p = .21), frequency (–sa: 2.54, –mi: 3.21, t(23) < 1).
The 48 experimental prime-target pairs were distributed over different presentation lists, so that no participant saw the same target more than once. In
addition, a set of 272 filler pairs was added to each list yielding a total of 320
prime-target pairs for each participant. The prime-target pairs were pseudo-randomized with half of the targets in each list representing an existing, the other
half a pseudoword. The latter were constructed by changing two characters of an
existing word. Amongst the 272 filler pairs were 54 semantically, morphologically,
and orthographically unrelated word-word fillers and 58 orthographically related
word-word fillers, all of which were nouns. The 58 orthographically related wordword pairs included 24 pairs which had the same degree of orthographic overlap
as the morphologically-related prime-target pairs. For these 24 word pairs, the
mean orthographic overlap ratio (calculated as the average proportion of moras
in the prime shared by the prime and target) was 0.68 (SD = 0.04), parallel to the
orthographic overlap of the prime-target pairs in the –mi (M = 0.68, SD = 0.03)
and the –sa conditions (M = 0.69, SD = 0.04). There were 160 additional filler pairs
with pseudoword targets, of which 52 were paired with unrelated, and 108 with
orthographically related primes.
Procedure, data scoring, and analysis.Participants were tested individually
in a dimly lit, quiet room using DMDX. All stimuli were centered and visually
presented in white Mincho 20 against a black background on a 15’’ laptop screen
in front of the participant. Each trial followed the same sequence. First, an asterisk
was presented for 500ms, followed by a 500ms blank screen, after which a forward
mask, consisting of 10 hash marks (the length of the longest prime) was presented for 500ms. Prime words were presented immediately after the mask for 50ms.
Participants were not told of the existence of the prime stimulus. At the offset of
the prime, the corresponding target word was presented. An interstimulus interval
of 0ms (SOA = 50 ms) was chosen to avoid participant’s awareness of the prime.
Measuring of RTs started with the presentation of the target, which remained on
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166 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
screen for 750 ms. The next trial started 1,000ms after the response or the target presentation. Before the experiment, participants were given detailed instructions about the task. They were asked to decide whether the target word was a real
Japanese word or not by pressing one of two buttons as quickly and accurately as
possible. Participants used their dominant hand for ‘yes’ responses. The experiment started with a practice phase in which eight target items (four existing and
four pseudowords) were presented. Thereafter, participants had the opportunity
to ask any questions about the task. One more (two minute) break was provided,
after 160 trials. The whole experiment lasted approximately 25 minutes.
Incorrect responses and timeouts were removed from further analyses. These
accounted for 7.25% of the critical prime-target pairs tested, with similar mean
percentages of incorrect responses for –sa and –mi (7.0% vs. 7.5%, t(29) < 1). The
data were submitted to ANOVAs with the variables Condition (-mi, –sa,), Prime
Type (Test, Unrelated), and in case of significant interactions to two-tailed planned
comparisons by participants (t1) and by items (t2).
Overall RT means and standard deviations for each condition (based on the participant analysis) are displayed in Table 4.
Table 4. Mean RTs (in ms) and SDs (in parenthesis) in Experiment 3
The ANOVAs did not yield a main effect of Condition (F1(1, 29) = 3.17,
MSE = 2641.03, p = .086; F2(1, 46) = 1.27, MSE = 4256.51, p = .265) or Conditionby-Prime Type interaction (F1/F2 < 1). However, RTs showed a main effect of Prime
Type (F1(1, 29) = 102.82, MSE = 649.44, p < .001; F2(1, 46) = 29.53, MSE = 2300.39,
p < .001). Further examination showed that targets in the –sa and the –mi conditions had significantly shorter RTs after a Test prime than after an Unrelated
prime, indicating a priming effect (–sa: t1(29) = 4.63, p < .001; t2(23) = 4.02, p < .01;
–mi: t1(29) = 4.96, p < .001; t2(23) = 3.77, p < .01). Furthermore, the magnitudes of
priming, that is, the differences between mean RTs in the Unrelated and Test conditions, for –sa and –mi forms were similar to each other (t1(29) < 1; t2(46) < 1).
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Derived nominals in Japanese 167
Additional analyses
Before drawing conclusions from the masked priming results, two concerns need to
be addressed, both of which require additional examination. Recall, firstly, that in
the present experiment all stimuli were entirely presented in the Hiragana script (to
avoid the potentially confounding effect of different within-word script types), even
though Japanese readers are normally exposed to the mixed Kanji-Hiragana script.
It is conceivable that morphological decomposition is more likely in a relatively less
common presentation format than in the more frequently encountered script type.
To examine whether the priming effects obtained for both –sa and –mi forms in the
present experiment can be replicated with stimuli presented in the more common
mixed script type, we tested a new group of 30 native speakers of Japanese (6 males,
24 females, mean age: 25.6) using the same procedures as in the main experiment,
but this time all primes and targets were presented in the mixed script. The results
showed significantly shorter target RTs in the Test than the Unrelated condition for
both –sa (549 ms vs. 624 ms, t1(28) = 8.24, p < .001; t2(20) = 6.72, p < .001) and –mi
prime words (560 ms vs. 626 ms, t1(28) = 6.58, p < .001; t2(20) = 4.66, p < .001), and
no difference in the magnitudes of priming (–sa: 75 ms vs. –mi: 66 ms, t1(28) < 1;
t2(40) < 1). These findings replicate the priming effects for –sa and –mi nominalizations obtained in the main experiment showing that these priming effects are not
specific to the Hiragana script.
A second concern is that the critical prime-target pairs in the main experiment are not only morphologically related but also orthographically. Thus it is
possible that the reported priming effect is not (only) morphological in nature, but
could (also) be due to the orthographic overlap between prime and target words.
To examine this possibility, we examined the subset of 24 filler prime-target pairs
that had the same orthographic overlap as the (morphologically related) items in
the Test condition of the main experiment for potential priming effects. This analysis revealed that unlike the Test condition of the main experiment, orthographically (but not morphologically) related word pairs did not produce any significant
priming effect (Orthographically Related vs. Unrelated: 618ms (SD = 131) vs. 636
(SD = 113); t1(29) = 2.05, p = .05; t2(23) < 1). Thus the significant priming effect in
the Test condition of the main experiment cannot be explained in terms of orthographic relatedness. A contrast such as the one we obtained between masked
morphological priming but no orthographic priming has also been found in a
number of other studies on different languages. For Japanese, Fiorentino, NaitoBillen, and Minai (2010) reported results from a masked priming experiment
showing significant facilitation for –sa and –mi primes and significant inhibition
for purely orthographically related primes at an SOA of 49ms; see also Boudelaa
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168 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
and Marslen-Wilson (2005), Rastle and Davis (2003) for similar evidence from
Arabic and English.
We conclude that the masked priming effects obtained for both –sa and –mi
forms are morphological in nature. This finding is in contrast to the priming differences between –sa and –mi forms that Kanamaru et al. (2005) obtained in their
cross-modal priming experiment which produced a larger priming effect for –sa
(68 ms, d = 1.05) than for –mi forms (51 ms, d =.74). If this contrast was due to different types of word-level representations for –sa and –mi word forms, the present
masked priming should have produced parallel results, given that masked priming
is sensitive to word-level representations. This was not the case, however. Instead,
the masked priming experiment yielded similar magnitudes of priming and effect
sizes for these forms (–sa: 47 ms, d = .59; –mi: 50 ms, d = .45). We therefore conclude that Kanamaru et al.’s (2005) finding that –mi forms are less efficient primes
than –sa forms in cross-modal priming results from the specific semantic properties of –mi forms.
General discussion
The results of the three experiments reported above together with those of previous studies provide a detailed picture of how deadjectival nominals with –sa and
–mi are processed and represented in the Japanese mental lexicon. Experiment 1
examined –sa and –mi forms in context and showed an advantage of –mi over –sa
forms during early stages of reading in cases in which the context was compatible
with the particular semantic labels of –mi forms. In contrast to that, parallel results
for –sa and –mi words were obtained in the two word recognition experiments.
Experiment 2 showed large whole-word frequency effects in unprimed lexical decision and experiment 3 significant priming effects of similar magnitudes for –sa
and –mi forms.
The representation of –sa and –mi forms in the Japanese mental lexicon
The experimental findings raise the question of why –sa and –mi forms behave
differently when presented in context (for reading), but similarly when presented
as single words (for primed or unprimed lexical decision). We address this question from a linguistic perspective, in terms of the lexical representations created
by derivational processes. Recall the insight from realization-based morphology
(e.g., Anderson, 1992; Matthews, 1991; Stump 2001) that derivational processes
‘constitute lexical stems’, i.e., they produce word-form-level entries irrespective of
their semantic or functional properties. Consequently, the outputs of two derivational processes may have the same type of word-level but different semantic/
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Derived nominals in Japanese 169
functional level representations. Given this distinction, we assume that –sa and
–mi have the same kinds of representations at the word-form level but different
ones at the meaning or functional level. This is shown in Figure 1 for the derived
words kusa-mi ‘smelliness (of a fish)’ and kusa-sa ‘smelliness’. We suggest that the
observed pattern of experimental results for –sa and –mi forms can be explained
in these terms.
As illustrated in Figure 1, derived words with –sa and –mi are proposed to
have the same type of word-form level representation. This was reflected in parallel patterns of results for the two experiments (viz., lexical decision and masked
priming) that tap into word-form level processing. On the one hand, both –sa and
–mi nominalizations produce whole-word forms, which behave as units of lexical
storage. Consequently, a task such as lexical decision — due to its task demands
(= word/non-word discrimination) — encourages participants to inspect –sa and
–mi forms for their whole-word properties. Sensitivity to word-form frequency in
unprimed lexical decision is believed to signal whole-word-based lexical access.
If this is correct (but see Marslen-Wilson, 2007; Taft, 2004), the finding that both
–sa and –mi word-form frequencies affect lexical decision times (despite matched
base frequencies) suggests that they do indeed both access whole-word representations during visual word recognition. On the other hand, the word-form level
representations of both –sa and –mi derived words are proposed to encode their
internal (stem+affix) structure; see Figure 1. Thus, an experimental technique
such as masked priming that is sensitive to morphological structure at the wordform level should produce stem-priming effects for both –sa and –mi forms. The
results of experiment 3 confirm this indicating that –sa and –mi nominals have
decomposed form-level representations. In this way, the pairing of whole-word
frequency effects in experiment 2 and stem-priming effects in experiment 3 can
be explained, by assuming that –sa and –mi nominals constitute ‘combinatorial
entries’ (Clahsen, Sonnenstuhl, & Blevins, 2003), stored word forms that maintain
their internal morphological structure.
Word meanings
Word forms
Figure 1. Proposed lexical representations of –sa and –mi nominalizations.
© 2012. John Benjamins Publishing Company
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170 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
Turning to meaning-related representations, –mi forms are proposed to have
dedicated entries that encode their specific meanings, whereas –sa forms do not
have separate entries at this level, due to their largely compositional meanings.
This contrast is reflected in different patterns of results for –sa and –mi forms in
experiments that are sensitive to the semantic properties of the word forms tested.
Semantic relatedness is, for example, more likely to affect performance in an overt
than in a masked priming experiment (Davis & Rastle, 2010). The priming patterns
observed for –sa and –mi forms are consistent with this contrast. Recall that unlike
our results from masked priming which produced the same significant priming
effects for both derived forms, Kanamaru et al.’s (2005) overt priming experiment
revealed efficient priming for –sa but reduced priming effects for –mi forms. This is
likely to be due to the particular meanings of –mi forms which make them less directly related to their corresponding adjectival stems than –sa forms. Furthermore,
the present eye-movement experiment revealed a significant early advantage of
–mi compatible contexts for the recognition of –mi forms, which disappeared at
later stages of processing. These findings suggest that due to their specific semantic
properties, appropriate contexts facilitate lexical retrieval of –mi forms.
Our conclusion from the present set of findings is that at the word-form
level, both –sa and –mi nominals are represented as combinatorial entries in the
Japanese mental lexicon, but that the representation of a –mi form provides an additional pointer to a lemma-level entry specifying its semantic properties. For –sa
nominals, there are no such additional entries or pointers, corresponding to their
largely compositional meanings.
Comparing derived word forms across different languages
To determine how language-particular differences influence the way derived word
forms are represented and processed, we can compare the patterning of experimental effects for –sa and –mi forms in Japanese with previous findings on other languages. Several experimental effects obtained for deadjectival nominals in
Japanese are familiar from studies of derived word forms in other languages. This
is particularly clear for –sa forms which demonstrate the same pattern of results in
lexical decision, masked and overt priming, and in acceptability judgments as productive, semantically transparent derived word forms in many other languages; see
Clahsen et al. (2003), Vannest et al. (2002), and Marslen-Wilson (2007) for reviews.
The experimental findings for –mi forms and the observed contrast to –sa
forms are also familiar from corresponding experiments on other languages.
However, unlike in Japanese, reduced productivity, restricted acceptability, and
reduced (overt) priming were typically found for derived word forms that involve
stem and/or affix allomorphy. In Indo-European languages, for example, so-called
© 2012. John Benjamins Publishing Company
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Derived nominals in Japanese 171
non-neutral derivational processes tend to be less productive and less effective as
primes for their corresponding stems than derived forms containing ‘neutral’ affixes which do not involve any stem or affix allomorphy (Alegre & Gordon, 1999b;
Silva, 2008, among others). Likewise, the finding that derived words in Finnish
behave like monomorphemic words (Hyönä et al., 1995) has been attributed to the
fact that many derivational processes involve rich suffix allomorphy in Finnish,
which is thought to reduce the saliency of an affix and therefore increases the likelihood of non-decompositional processing (Järvikivi, Bertram, & Niemi, 2006).
Whilst allomorphy might be a relevant factor for the performance of derived
words in Finnish as well as in Indo-European languages, the differences in the
experimental results for –sa and –mi cannot be explained in these terms as these
derived words are not subject to any kind of stem or suffix allomorphy. The same
is true for the differences in productivity between –sa and –mi which — as is clear
from the results of experiments 2 and 3 — cannot be attributed to different types
of form-level representation. Instead, the productivity differences between –sa
and –mi are more likely to result from their different semantic properties, that –mi
produces labels with unpredictable meanings whereas –sa functions as a nominalizer that produces word forms with compositional meanings.
The experimental findings reported in the present study show how different semantic properties influence the performance of derived words that have the same
type of form-level representation. The eye-movement experiment that specifically
probed for semantic context effects showed longer reading times for –mi forms
when their particular semantic labels were not contextually licensed. That –mi
forms are less productive (Hagiwara et al., 1999) and yield less efficient overt priming than –sa forms (Kanamaru et al., 2005) can also be attributed to the idiosyncratic meanings of –mi forms. Two further experiments confirmed that knowledge
of both the whole-word form and the component parts affect the recognition of
–sa and –mi nominals in parallel ways. We conclude that although –sa and –mi
nominals have the same type of form-level representation, a –mi form provides an
additional pointer to its specific semantic label.
At a more general level, our results provide support for linguistic accounts
of derived words that treat derivational processes as the result of combinatorial
operations but associate their outputs with lexical entries (e.g., Andersen, 1992).
Together with the results of previous experimental studies (e.g., Clahsen et al.,
2003; Marslen-Wilson, 2007), the present set of findings shows how this linguis-
© 2012. John Benjamins Publishing Company
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172 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
tic distinction helps to understand the behavior of derived word forms across typologically different languages.
Supported by a University of Essex doctoral fellowship to YI. We thank Raymond Bertram,
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Appendix A. Critical trials for Experiments 1
Note that each sentence was presented with a –sa and a –mi form of the target adjective.
(1) 臭い kusa-i ‘smelly’
a. –mi bias
夫が今日釣ってきた川魚は臭い。 妻は上手にその臭みを取り除く。
Otto-ga kyou tutteki-ta kawazakana-wa kusa-i. Tuma-wa zouzuni sono kusami-o torinozoku.
‘The river fish the husband caught today is smelly. His wife gets rid of the bad
smell (smelliness) very well.’
b. no (–mi) bias
愛煙家である夫の部屋は臭い。 妻は上手にその臭さを取り除く。
Aienka de aru otto-no heya-wa kusa-i. Tuma-wa zouzuni sono kusa-sa-o
‘The room of the heavy smoking husband is smelly. His wife gets rid of the bad
smell (smelliness) very well.
(2) 深い huka-i ‘deep’
a. –mi bias
新発売のコーヒーはこくが深い。 世間ではその深みが話題である。
Shinhatubai-no kohi-wa koku-ga huka-i. Seken de wa sono huka-mi-ga wadai
de aru.
‘Newly-marketed coffee has a rich flavour. This richness is in the news.’
b. no (–mi) bias
Tazawako-wa Biwako yori suisin-ga huka-i. Seken dewa sono huka-sa-ga wadai
de aru.
‘Lake Tazawa is deeper than Lake Biwa. This depth is in the news.’
(3) 渋い sibu-i ‘bitter’
a. –mi bias
今年の新茶はなぜかとても渋い。 そしてその渋みが太郎は好きだ。
Kotosi-no sincha-wa nazeka totemo sibu-i. Sosite sono sibu-mi-ga Taro-wa
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176 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
‘This year’s first tea of the season is bitter for some reason. And Taro likes the
b. no (–mi) bias
この陶器の色合いはとても渋い。 そしてその渋さが太郎は好きだ。
Kono toki-no iroai-wa totemo sibu-i. Sosite sono sibu-sa-ga Taro-wa sukida.
‘The colour of this pottery is austerely elegant. And Taro likes this (the austere
(4) 柔らかい yawaraka-i ‘soft’
a. –mi bias
Kokyu wain-wa kutiatari-ga yawaraka-i. Daremo-ga sono yawaraka-mi-o
‘Vintage wine has a smooth taste. Everyone approves of this smoothness.’
b. no (–mi) bias
Kokyu umoubuton-wa yahari yawaraka-i. Daremo-ga sono yawaraka-sa-o
‘It has to be said that the luxury duvet is soft. Everyone approves of this softness.’
(5) 暖かい atataka-i ‘warm’
a. –mi bias
Yamada kun-wa kokoro-ga totemo atataka-i hito da. Hanako-wa sono atatakami-ga daisuki da.
‘Yamada is a person who has a very warm heart. Hanako likes this warmth a lot.’
b. no (–mi) bias
Gogatu-no soyokaze-wa totemo atataka-i. Hanako-wa sono atataka-sa-ga
daisuki da.
‘The gentle breeze in May is very warm. Hanako likes this warmth a lot.’
(6) 重い omo-i ‘heavy’
a. –mi bias
Shacho-no jinin-no motu imi-wa omo-i. Shaintati-wa sono omo-mi-o
‘The president’s resignation has deep significance. Colleagues discussed this.’
b. no (–mi) bias
Sinseihin-wa situ-wa takai-ga totemo omo-i. Shaintati-wa sono omo-sa-o
‘This new product is high quality but it is very heavy. Colleagues discussed its
(7) 悲しい kanasi-i ‘sad’
a. –mi bias
Mijikana hito-o nakusu koto-wa kanasi-i. Sosite sono kanasi-mi-wa
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Derived nominals in Japanese 177
‘Loosing someone who is close is sad. And this sadness is hard to express.’
no (–mi) bias
Kongetu-no hittokyoku-no kasi-wa kanasi-i. Sosite sono kanasi-sa-wa
‘This month’s hit song has a sad lyric. And this sadness is hard to express.’
(8) 楽しい tanosi-i ‘pleasant’
a. –mi bias
Oya-wa ko-no seicho-o miruno-ga tanosi-i. Sore-ga saidaino tanosi-mi da to
‘Seeing the growth of a child is a joy for parents. (I think) it is the greatest joy.’
b. no (–mi) bias
Ryugaku-wa ibunkakoryu-ga itiban tanosi-i. Sore-ga saidaino tanosi-sa da to
‘Experiencing cross-culture is the most pleasant thing when studying abroad. (I
think) it is the greatest pleasure.’
(9) 苦しい kurusi-i ‘hard’
a. –mi bias
Kanojo-wa omoi byoki de totemo kurusi-i. Nagaiaida sono kurusi-mi-ni
‘She has a serious illness and her life is hard. She has been bearing this hardness
for a long time.’
b. no (–mi) bias
Karewa shakkin o kakaeta seikatu ga kurusi-i. Nagaiaida sono kurusi-sa-ni
‘He has debts and lives a hard life. He has been bearing this hardness for a long
(10) 厚い atu-i ‘thick’
a. –mi bias
Shachositu ni aru kyokagarasu-wa atu-i. Shanai demo sono atu-mi-wa yumeide
‘The tempered glass in the president’s room is thick. This thickness is famous in
the firm.’
b. no (–mi) bias
Suzukibuch- no buka e no sinrai-wa atu-i. Shanai demo sono atu-sa-wa yumei
‘Mr. Suzuki puts a strong trust in his colleagues. This strength is famous in the
© 2012. John Benjamins Publishing Company
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178 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
(11) 苦い niga-i ‘bitter’
a. –mi bias
Yasai no naka demo goya-wa tokuni niga-i. Ajiwau made sono niga-mi-wa
‘The bitter gourd is a particularly bitter vegetable. You never know the bitterness
until you taste it.’
b. no (–mi) bias
Kaishakeiei-ni sippaisita keiken-wa niga-i. Ajiwau made sono niga-sa-wa
‘The experience of failing the company management is a bitter one. You never
know this bitterness until you experience it.’
(12) 痛い ita-i ‘painful’
a. –mi bias
Tetsuo-wa shokuchudoku de onaka-ga ita-i. Souzou izyou-no ita-mi-ni kare-wa
‘Tetsuo got food poisoning and has stomach ache. He was upset because the
pain was beyond anything he had imagined.’
b. no (–mi) bias
Kyurobi mae-no totuzen-no shuppi-wa ita-i. Souzou izyou-no ita-sa-ni kare-wa
‘A sudden expense before payday is a shock. He was upset because the shock was
beyond anything he had imagined.’
(13) 旨い uma-i ‘tasty’
a. –mi bias
Ano mise-no supu-no dasi-wa uma-i. Uwasa dewa sono uma-mi-wa zeppin da
‘That restaurant’s soup stock is tasty. According to rumour, the tastiness
(flavour) is excellent.’
b. no (–mi) bias
Atarasiku dekita nihonryoriya-wa uma-i. Uwasa dewa sono uma-sa-wa zeppin
da souda.
‘The newly opened Japanese restaurant serves tasty dishes. According to rumour,
the tastiness (flavour) is excellent.’
(14) 丸い maru-i ‘round’
a. –mi bias
Saikin-no hayari-no yunyukagu-wa maru-i. Kato san-wa sono maru-mi-ni
chumoku sita.
‘Recent trendy imported furniture is round. Mr. Kato noticed the roundness.’
© 2012. John Benjamins Publishing Company
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Derived nominals in Japanese 179
b. no (–mi) bias
Saikin-no hayari-no zyutaku-no mado-wa maru-i. Kato san-wa sono marusa-ni chumoku sita.
‘Recent trendy house windows are round. Mr. Kato noticed the roundness.’
(15) 有難い arigata-i ‘grateful’
a. –mi bias
Kazoku ya tomodati-no sonzai-wa taihen arigata-i. Masako-wa sono arigatami-o kinou kanzita.
‘Families and friends are very valuable. Masako felt this value yesterday.’
b. no (–mi) bias
Kono waribiki sabisu-wa taihen arigata-i. Masako-wa sono arigata-sa-o kinou
‘This discount service is very valuable. Masako felt this value yesterday.’
(16) 緩い yuru-i ‘loose/slack’
a. –mi bias
Yasumiake-no zidou-wa sukosi ki-ga yuru-i. Ryosin-wa sono yuru-mi-o sinpai
‘Pupils are too relaxed after the vacation. Parents are worrying about this laxity.’
b. no (–mi) bias
Mikiko-ga kayou koukou-no kisoku-wa yuru-i. Ryosin-wa sono yuru-sa-o
sinpai siteiru.
‘Mikiko’s high school has loose regulations. Parents are worrying about this
© 2012. John Benjamins Publishing Company
All rights reserved
180 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
Appendix B. Critical items for Experiment 2
Low frequency –sa forms
High-frequency –sa forms
frequency (in
(per million) moras)
(per million) moras)
緩さ yuru-sa ‘looseness’
広さ hiro-sa ‘width’
古さ huru-sa ‘oldness’
速さ haya-sa ‘quickness’
近さ tika-sa ‘closeness’
寒さ samu-sa ‘coldness’
浅さ asa-sa ‘shallowness’ 0.46
長さ naga-sa ‘length’
細さ hoso-sa ‘slimness’
怖さ kowa-sa ‘scariness’
白さ siro-sa ‘whiteness’
暑さ atu-sa ‘hotness’
欲しさ hosi-sa ‘desire’
激しさ hagesi-sa
危なさ abuna-sa
寂しさ sabisi-sa ‘loneliness’   2.60
乏しさ tobosi-sa
優しさ yasasi-sa ‘kindness’
等しさ hitosi-sa ‘equality’ 0.00
悔しさ kuyasi-sa ‘regret’
小ささ tiisa-sa ‘smallness’ 0.41
難しさ muzukasi-sa
珍しさ mezurasi-sa
美しさ utukusi-sa ‘beauty’
臭み kusa-mi ‘smelliness 0.32
(of food)’
重み omo-mi ‘heaviness/
丸み maru-mi ‘roundness’ 0.86
痛み ita-mi ‘(physical) pain’
苦み niga-mi ‘bitterness
(of food)’
深み huka-mi ‘depth’
渋み sibu-mi ‘astringent’ 0.32
厚み atu-mi ‘thickness’
高み taka-mi ‘high place’ 0.52
甘み ama-mi ‘sweetness (of
赤み aka-mi ‘reddishness’ 0.48
弱み yowa-mi ‘weakness (of
暗み kura-mi ‘darkness
(of colour)’
旨み uma-mi ‘delicious taste’
黒み kuro-mi ‘blackness’ 0.04
楽しみ tanosi-mi ‘joy’
青み ao-mi ‘bluishness’
明るみ akaru-mi ‘bright
place/ public’
惜しみ osi-mi ‘reluctance 0.29
(to give up)’
苦しみ kurusi-mi ‘agony’
暖かみ atataka-mi
‘warmness (of an action)’
悲しみ kanasi-mi ‘sadness’
柔らかみ yawaraka-mi
親しみ sitasi-mi ‘friendliness’   4.26
© 2012. John Benjamins Publishing Company
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Derived nominals in Japanese 181
Appendix C. Critical items for Experiment 3
–mi よわみ yowa-mi
つらい tura-i
–mi くらみ kura-mi
つよい tuyo-i
くらい kura-i
–mi しろみ siro-mi
ながい naga-i
しろい siro-i
–mi いたみ ita-mi
あさい asa-i
いたい ita-i
–mi すごみ sugo-mi
‘amazement’ ねむい nemu-i
すごい sugo-i
–mi かゆみ kayu-mi
きよい kiyo-i
かゆい kayu-i
–mi くさみ kusa-mi
ずるい zuru-i
くさい kusa-i
–mi ゆるみ yuru-mi
くどい kudo-i
ゆるい yuru-i
–mi あかみ aka-mi
もろい moro-i
あかい aka-i
–mi しぶみ sibu-mi
からい kara-i
しぶい sibu-i
–mi あおみ ao-mi
たかい taka-i
あおい ao-i
–mi おもみ omo-mi
とおい too-i
おもい omo-i
–mi かるみ karu-mi
えらい era-i
‘commendable’ かるい karu-i
–mi にくみ niku-mi
‘hatefulness’ ふかい huka-i
にくい niku-i
–mi あまみ ama-mi
きつい kitu-i
あまい ama-i
–mi あつみ atu-mi
にがい niga-i
あつい atu-i
–mi ほそみ hoso-mi
ひどい hido-i
ほそい hoso-i
–mi うまみ uma-mi
ぬるい nuru-i
うまい uma-i
–mi まるみ maru-mi
‘roundness’ つよい tuyo-i
まるい maru-i
–mi おしみ osi-mi
‘reluctance’ ながい naga-i
おしい osi-i
–mi くるしみ kurusi-mi ‘agony’
やさしい yasasi-i ‘kind’
くるしい kurusi-i‘agonising’
–mi かなしみ kanasi-mi ‘sadness’
とぼしい tobosi-i ‘poor’
かなしい kanasi-i‘sad’
–mi したしみ sitasi-mi
‘friendliness’ むなしい munasi-i‘empty’
したしい sitasi-i ‘friendly’
–mi あかるみ akaru-mi
‘brightness’ おさない osana-i ‘young’
あかるい akaru-i ‘bright’
やすさ yasu-sa
あわい awa-i
こわさ kowa-sa
おおい oo-i
‘abounding’ こわい kowa-i
はやさ haya-sa
かたい kata-i
はやい haya-i
ふとさ huto-sa
くろい kuro-i
ふとい huto-i
ひろさ hiro-sa
くどい kudo-i
ひろい hiro-i
おそさ oso-sa
せこい seko-i
おそい oso-i
にぶさ nibu-sa
わかい waka-i
にぶい nibu-i
さむさ samu-sa
のろい noro-i
さむい samu-i
ちかさ tika-sa
えぐい egu-i
ちかい tika-i
ふるさ huru-sa
ほしい hosi-i
ふるい huru-i
うすさ usu-sa
むごい mugo-i
うすい usu-i
ひくさ hiku-sa
うとい uto-i
‘unfamiliar’ ひくい hiku-i
せまさ sema-sa
ださい dasa-i
わるさ waru-sa
おおい oo-i
‘abounding’ わるい waru-i
あらさ ara-sa
かたい kata-i
あらい ara-i
まずさ mazu-sa
‘distastefulness’ くろい kuro-i
まずい mazu-i
© 2012. John Benjamins Publishing Company
All rights reserved
やすい yasu-i
せまい sema-i
182 Harald Clahsen and Yu Ikemoto
すずしさ suzusi-sa ‘coolness’
ひとしい hitosi-i ‘equal’
すずしい suzusi-i ‘cool’
ただしさ tadasi-sa ‘rightness’
ただしい tadasi-i ‘right’
せつなさ setuna-sa ‘wistfulness’
ひさしい hisasi-i ‘long time’
せつない setuna-i ‘wistful’
あやうさ ayau-sa
‘dangerousness’いとしい itosi-i ‘dear’
あやうい ayau-i
くやしさ kuyasi-sa ‘regret’
けむたい kemuta-i‘smoky’
くやしい kuyasi-i ‘regretful’
つめたさ tumeta-sa ‘coldness’
ちいさい tiisa-i ‘little’
つめたい tumeta-i‘cold’
さびしさ sabisi-sa ‘loneliness’
たのしい tanosi-i‘fun’
さびしい sabisi-i ‘lonely’
うれしさ uresi-sa ‘delightfulness’ くわしいkuwasi-i ‘specific’
Corresponding address
Harald Clahsen
University of Potsdam
14476 Potsdam
Tel.: +49 (0)331/ 977–2751. Fax: +49 (0)331/ 977–2687
[email protected]
© 2012. John Benjamins Publishing Company
All rights reserved
うれしい uresi-i ‘delight’