ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2023, Vol. 55 ›› Issue (8): 1207-1219.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.01207

• Reports of Empirical Studies •     Next Articles

Time course of the integration of the morpho-semantics and the meaning of two-character Chinese compound words

CAI Wenqi, ZHANG Xiangyang, WANG Xiaojuan(), YANG Jianfeng()   

  1. School of Psychology, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an 710062, China
  • Received:2022-06-15 Published:2023-08-25 Online:2023-05-12
  • Contact: WANG Xiaojuan,YANG Jianfeng;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(31671167);Fundamental Research Funds For the Central Universities(GK202101010);Fundamental Research Funds For the Central Universities(2021TS098);Postgraduate Funds For Collaborative Innovation Center of Assessment for Basic Education Quality, Beijing Normal University(BJZK-2021A3-21011)


Previous studies have shown that morpho-semantic information can be automatically activated and influence word meaning access. However, the time course underlying the morpho-semantic activation and subsequent integration is unclear. In particular, an important issue is to clarify how morpho-semantic information involves in word semantic integration processing. The current event-related potential (ERP) study examined the time course of morpho-semantic information of the first and the second character that participated in whole-word semantic integration. We selected three types of two-character words: transparent compound words (e.g., 炽热, hot) having similar meanings with their two characters (both 炽 and 热 mean hot), opaque words (e.g., 风流, dissolute) having a different meaning to either the first (风, wind) or the second character (流, flow) and monomorphemic words (e.g., 伶俐, clever) having two characters that are not two independent morphemes. During the first character processing, the result found a morphological effect in the early (300~400 ms) and the late (460~700 ms) time window, showing more negative amplitude for two types of compound words than monomorphemic words. Whereas during the second character processing, the result found a significant semantic transparency effect at the early stage (260~420 ms), showing more negative-going waveform for the opaque words than transparent ones, and an inversed morphological effect at the late stage (480~700 ms) showing that two types of compound words evoked more positive amplitude than monomorphemic words. The results suggested that the morpheme was an independent unit represented in the mental lexicon and automatically activated at an early processing stage. Its meaning can facilitate the access of the related word meaning or inhibit the processing of the unrelated word meaning.

Key words: semantic integration, compound word, semantic transparency, ERP