Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-15-2020


The role of morphology in bilingual lexical access is an under-investigated topic. Due to the overrepresentation of concatenative-based languages which inherently cannot adequately isolate effects of morphology from those of orthography and semantics, morphological processing had been relegated to a secondary role in lexical access. The present research utilized Arabic, a non-concatenative Semitic language, to investigate the role of morphology in bilingual language processing. Two experiments using translation recognition and masked lexical decision were conducted with Arabic-English bilinguals to answer two research questions: 1) Does (Arabic) morphology mediate cross-language activation? and 2) Is Arabic-English cross-language morphological activation task-dependent? Mixed effects models were employed to analyze Reaction times (RT) and Accuracy rates.

The results of both experiments suggest that morphological activation in the mental lexicon—in Semitic languages at least—is robust such that not only does activation spread within language via morphology, but also across languages via morphological mediation. Further, the results showed that cross-language morphological activation cannot be explained by orthographic or semantic confounds. Morphological activation, thus, is not a result of the combined processing activity of orthography and semantics, as previously claimed.


bilingual Lexical access, morphological activation, cross-language activation

Document Type




Degree Name

Educational Linguistics

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Jill Morford

Second Committee Member

Melissa Axelrod

Third Committee Member

Emma Trentman

Fourth Committee Member

Pisarn Chamcharatsri