Processing Nominal Suffixes in Korean: Evidence from Priming Experiments

  • Received : 2011.04.27
  • Accepted : 2011.05.22
  • Published : 2011.06.30


This study investigates morphologically complex nouns in Korean through a series of priming studies. Two experiments examined whether morphological affixes on Korean nouns were decomposed or processed as a whole. Two types of morphological affixes were examined: morpho-syntactic case markers and the plural marker '-tul'. Results showed that priming occurred for the plural marker with SOAs of 80 ms and 160 ms, but no priming occurred for the morpho-syntactic case markers. These results suggest that the morphological processing for these two types of affixes differ. We argue that Korean nouns with the plural suffix are decomposed into the stem and affix, supporting the Decomposition Model (Pinker & Ullman, 2002). We suggest that while plural markers are truly morphological affixes, case markers in Korean are morpho-syntactic, and thus presuppose the existence of other syntactic elements, such as the matrix verb, hence the lack of priming effects.