The relationship between the effects of morphological complexity and associative production frequency (PF) was investigated in two experiments on sentence verification. Subjects were timed as they evaluated low- and high-PF sentences with predicates containing words that were morphologically either basic or derived (e.g.,Birds have feathers vs.Birds are feathered). In the first experiment sentences with basic predicates were verified more quickly than sentences with derived predicates, and high-PF sentences were verified more quickly than low-PF sentences. The advantage of basic over derived forms was reduced for the high-PF sentences. In the second experiment, the predicate of each sentence (e.g.,are feathered) was presented for 2 sec before the subject word appeared. In this delay condition the basic and derived versions of high-PF sentences were verified equally quickly; but for low-PF sentences, the basic form was still evaluated more quickly. The fact that the effect of morphological complexity was not necessarily eliminated after a delay suggested that the main difficulty of derived forms arises not during initial comprehension, but during a later stage in the comparison of the subject and predicate concepts.
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