Volume 14, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1871-1340
  • E-ISSN: 1871-1375



To what extent do speakers decompose morphologically complex words, such as , into their morphological constituents? In this article, we argue that spelling errors in English affixes reflect morphological boundary strength and degrees of segmentability. In support of this argument, we present a case study examining the spelling of the suffixes -, -, and - in an online resource (Tweets), in forms such as <availible>, <invisable>, <eloquance>, and <bettermint>. Based on previous research on morphological productivity and boundary strength (Hay, 2002Hay & Baayen, 20022005), we hypothesized that morphological segmentability should affect the choice between <able> vs. <ible>, <ance> vs. <ence>, and <ment> vs. <-mint>. An analysis of roughly 23,000 non-standard spellings is consistent with that hypothesis, underscoring the usefulness of spelling variation as a source of evidence for morphological segmentability and for the role of morphological representations in language production and comprehension.

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Keyword(s): affixes; derivation; misspellings; morphological boundaries; morphology; orthography; spelling
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