When do combinatorial mechanisms apply in the production of inflected words?

Joana Cholin, Brenda Rapp, Michele Miozzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


A central question for theories of inflected word processing is to determine under what circumstances compositional procedures apply. Some accounts (e.g., the dual-mechanism model; Clahsen, 1999) propose that compositional processes only apply to verbs that take productive affixes. For all other verbs, inflected forms are assumed to be stored in the lexicon in a nondecomposed manner. This account makes clear predictions about the consequences of disruption to the lexical access mechanisms involved in the spoken production of inflected forms. Briefly, it predicts that nonproductive forms (which require lexical access) should be more affected than productive forms (which, depending on the language task, may not). We tested these predictions through the detailed analysis of the spoken production of a German-speaking individual with an acquired lexical impairment resulting from a stroke. Analyses of response accuracy, error types, and frequency effects revealed that combinatorial processes are not restricted to verbs that take productive inflections. On this basis, we propose an alternative account, the stem-based assembly model (SAM), which posits that combinatorial processes may be available to all stems and not only to those that combine with productive affixes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-359
Number of pages26
JournalCognitive neuropsychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010


  • Affixation
  • Inflections
  • Morphology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Productivity
  • Speech production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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