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Humans have the remarkable capacity to express their thoughts, beliefs, and intentions through a physical medium (sounds, gestures, or pictograms) to share with others. Language's expressive power resides in the ability to express any novel thought by combining elements (e.g., cow, purple, ticklish) into a sequence that conveys that thought (e.g., a ticklish purple cow). Thus, a critical component of language comprehension consists of recognizing the presence of these elements, the words, in the speaker's discourse in order to retrieve their individual meanings and combine them to derive an overall interpretation of the discourse. Research on word recognition has focused on understanding how people categorize a physical (auditory or visual) token as one of the many words they know. This entry first reviews the factors ...

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