[PS-2.53] Parts and wholes: an eye-tracking study of multi-word units in Dutch

Lensink, S. 1, 2 , Schiller, N. 1, 2 & Verhagen, A. 1, 2

1 Leiden Unversity Centre for Linguistics (LUCL)
2 Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC)

According to usage-based theories of language, every usage event of language shapes the way language is represented in the brain. These theories predict that frequent, but completely compositional combinations of words are stored as wholes, to act as a processing short-cut. There is a growing body of psycholinguistic studies showing that indeed multi-word frequencies are predictive of processing speed in both production and comprehension, suggesting multi-word storage.

Recently we replicated these effects for Dutch compositional and transparent multi-word units in a production experiment. Using measures capturing the combined frequencies of the single words and frequencies of the whole multi-word unit, we fitted a mixed-effect model and showed that not only multi-word units, but also single words had a significant influence on speech rate. This is reminiscent of several dual-route models of morphological processing and reading.

As the production data might only reflect faster processing or execution of frequent articulatory programs, and not multi-word storage per se, we are currently running an eye-tracking study on Dutch multi-word units to tap into a deeper linguistic level. We will report on our eye-tracking study, embedding these and previous findings in a wider cognitive context of dual-route models.