Morphological decomposition in Bantu: a masked priming study on Setswana prefixation

African languages have rarely been the subject of psycholinguistic experimentation. The current study employs a masked visual priming experiment to investigate morphological processing in a Bantu language, Setswana. Our study takes advantage of the rich system of prefixes in Bantu languages, which offers the opportunity of testing morphological priming effects from prefixed inflected words and directly comparing them to priming effects from prefixed derived words on the same targets. We found significant priming effects of similar magnitude for both prefixed inflected and derived word forms, which were clearly dissociable from prime-target relatedness in both meaning and (orthographic) form. These findings provide support for a (possibly universal) mechanism of morphological decomposition applied during early visual word recognition that segments both (prefixed) inflected and derived word forms into their morphological constituents.