The psycholinguistic reality of collocation
and semantic prosody (1)
Our research investigates the psycholinguistic reality in language users of the phenomena of collocation and semantic prosody shown by corpus linguistics to be pervasive in language texts. This report concerns the earliest stages of word recognition and lexical access. It uses a lexical decision task to assess whether these processes are sensitive to particular collocations and to the generalizations of semantic prosody/association. The results demonstrate that native speakers preferentially process frequent verb-argument and booster/maximizer-adjective collocations. But the same paradigm that so readily shows sensitivity to particular collocations fails to demonstrate generalization. While memory for particular lexical associations affords fluent lexical access, there are no top-down semantic generalizations upon this level of processing. Our subsequent research shows semantic access to be the earliest cognitive locus of semantic association.