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A comparative study of word formations and morphological processing in Italian native speakers and Italian-Slovenian bilinguals

Roberta Chissich (2021) A comparative study of word formations and morphological processing in Italian native speakers and Italian-Slovenian bilinguals. MSc thesis.

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    The central aim of this study is to investigate the processing of derivational suffixes in the Italian language by using the combination of two suffixes (SUFF1 and SUFF2) we investigated how accurate Italian monolinguals and Italian-Slovenian bilinguals can be when dealing with derivational suffixes. In other words, whether they are capable to successfully distinguish between non-existing and existing combinations of suffixes; and whether there is a difference in accuracy between monolinguals and bilinguals. We based our hypotheses on two underlying assumptions. First, suffix order is handled as binary combinations of SUFF1-SUFF2 type, depending on their position to the root morpheme (Manova, 2015; Brzoza & Manova, 2015). Second, although it seems that suffixes are not organized in the same way throughout different languages, it is understood that SUFF1 relates to SUFF2 in a fixed or predictable way (Manova, 2011, 2015; Brzoza & Manova, 2015). A combination is fixed, when a SUFF1 can combine with only one particular SUFF2 within a major lexical category (noun, adjective, verb); as it is, for example, with the Italian SUFF1 -ific(are) and SUFF2 -bil(e). It is predictable, if a SUFF1 can combine with more than one SUFF2, but only one SUFF2 by default derives a majority of words in a major lexical category; as it is, for example, with the SUFF1 -ific(are) and SUFF2 - zion(e). Our two hypotheses about native speakers’ intuition on the derivational suffixes are that if SUFF1 is fixed, i.e. tends to combine with only one SUFF2 +, speakers should know them intuitively. And if so, they should also differentiate with a higher accuracy between existing and non-existing combinations, and also between productive and unproductive combinations. In order to examine this, native-speaking Italian participants were asked to decide whether standalone SUFF1-SUFF2 type combinations exist or not in a psycholinguistic experiment using a lexical decision task. This experiment was conducted with 30 native Italian participants and 24 Italian-Slovenian bilinguals. 30 existing and 30 non-existing suffix combinations were selected for the testing (based on Medvešek & Manova, 2017). The accuracy of their categorization was examined according to the productivity and fixed status of the existing suffix combinations. By investigating monolingual and bilingual speakers’ intrinsic knowledge on existing and non-existing combinations, we expected they would be more accurate in recognizing productive existing combinations than unproductive existing or non-existing. As the results showed, both Italian native speakers and Italian-Slovenian bilinguals could intuitively distinguish between existing and non-existing suffix combinations, and they were better at recognizing productive combinations, affirming the hypotheses.

    Item Type: Thesis (MSc thesis)
    Keywords: derivational suffix, SUFF1-SUFF 2, morphological decomposition, productive, unproductive
    Number of Pages: 50
    Language of Content: English
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    izr. prof. dr. Christina ManouilidouMentor
    Link to COBISS: http://www.cobiss.si/scripts/cobiss?command=search&base=50126&select=(ID=64736259)
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 6717
    Date Deposited: 27 May 2021 08:12
    Last Modified: 27 May 2021 08:12
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/6717

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