Processing and Interpreting Novel Compounds in EFL Reading: Focusing on the Integration of Morphological and Contextual Information
Zenkoku Eigo Kyoiku Gakkai kiyo
Although the importance and effectiveness of the combined use of both morphemes and contexts when understanding novel words have been emphasized, little is known about the on-line integration of the two sources during EFL reading. Therefore, the present study addressed this issue by employing on-line self-paced reading tasks. Target words were pseudo compounds (e.g., pricewar), whose literal meanings are either consistent or inconsistent with their surrounding contexts (transparent and opaque
... mpounds, respectively). A total of 41 Japanese undergraduate and graduate students read the contexts for comprehension word-by-word (reading task), and then translated the contexts into Japanese (translation task) to reveal what information the readers utilized for interpretation, and its relationship with on-line integration. The comparison of the reading times for transparent and opaque targets demonstrated that EFL readers integrated contextual and morphological information during reading; readers were sensitive to semantic relation between morphemes and contexts. However, this integration did not correlate with accurate interpretation due to the greater demand of suppressing intervention from morphological information. These results suggest that difficulty in understanding novel compounds lies in flexible semantic selection, rather than in appreciating the relation of the two sources.