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On the Mental Lexicon

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Author(s): Heinz Vater

Journal: Studi Linguistici e Filologici Online
ISSN 1724-5230

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 175;
Date: 2006;
Original page

ABSTRACT
After a short survey of the subjects and goals of Psycholinguistics, the Mental Lexicon (ML), its structure and the form of its entries are described, based mainly on the descriptions by Aitchison (1987), Emmorey / Fromkin (1988), Levelt (1989) and Handke (1995). According to Bierwisch (1987: 646) and Schwarz (19962), the ML concerns the static ("representational) aspect of psycholinguistics, i.e. the question of how language is stored in our brains. Emmorey / Fromkin (1988: 144–146) hold that the ML contains words, morphemes and idioms as entries. With each entry, its phonological and morphological structure, its syntactic combinability, its semantic and orthographic representations are stored. On the base of more recent research the description given by Emmorey / Fromkin (1988) has to be revised: According to Clahsen et al. (1991), regularly inflected words like leb-t-e are composed from morphemes stored in the ML, whereas irregular forms like war or wurde are stored as whole entries. These results were confirmed by neurolinguistic investigations carried out by Jaeger et al. (1996) based on English data. Concerning the syntax of lexical entries, the differentiation between valency potential and valency realization (cf. Agel 1993 and Vater 1996) can be applied in a productive way. Semantically, lexical entries can be thought of as stored with semantic components (or prototypical features) as well as stored holistically, associated with each other in a network (as Aitchison 1987 and Löbach 2000 think).
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