An Investigation into the Processing of Lexicalized English Blend Words: Evidence from Lexical Decisions and Eye Movements During Reading
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New words enter the language through several word formation processes [see Simonini (Engl J 55:752–757, 1966)]. One such process, blending, occurs when two source words are combined to represent a new concept (e.g., SMOG, BRUNCH, BLOG, and INFOMERCIAL). While there have been examinations of the structure of blends [see Gries (Linguistics 42:639–667, 2004) and Lehrer (Am Speech 73:3–28, 1998)], relatively little attention has been given to how lexicalized blends are recognized and if this process differs from other types of words. In the present study, blend words were matched to non-blend control words on length, familiarity, and frequency. Two tasks were used to examine blend processing: lexical decision and sentence reading. The results demonstrated that blend words were processed differently than non-blend control words. However, the nature of the effect varied as a function of task demands. Blends were recognized slower than control words in the lexical decision task but received shorter fixation durations when embedded in sentences.