The Orthography of Morphology: Surface Form Effects in L2 Word Recognition and Spelling
Recent masked priming studies have suggested that L2 speakers rely more heavily on orthography during written word recognition, while L1 speakers primarily use morphology (e.g., Heyer & Clahsen, 2015; Li, Taft, & Xu, 2017). The present talk presents data looking at the use of orthographic information in L2 processing from two angles: First, a masked priming study investigated whether orthographic effects are located on the lexical level (resulting from co-activation of entries sharing letters: surface → surfer, surf, surreal etc.) or on the surface form level (i.e., individual letters activate all entries containing these letters, with delayed de-activation of non-target entries in L2 compared to L1), using nonword primes. Second, a novel word spelling task tested whether L2ers are sensitive to morpho-graphic spelling regularities (e.g., word-final /əs/ is consistently spelt ‹ous› for adjectives, while being spelt differently for other lexical categories: famous vs. bonus).
The results indicate that orthography plays a crucial role in L2 acquisition and processing. In instructed L2 acquisition, learners are exposed to written forms from the beginning, thus giving them a head-start in consolidating orthographic representations within lexical entries and in noticing morpho-graphic spelling regularities, while, in L1 acquisition, the orthographic representation is added later.