Recalling Arabic and English Prefixed and Suffixed Verbs among Arabic-English Bilingual Speakers: An Experimental Study in Relation to Working Memory

Jiyar Othman, Rashad Ahmed, Muhammad Alasmari


The current study focuses on how prefixes and suffixes in Arabic and English impact one’s working memory capacity to recall verbs.  Further, it deals with whether or not Arabic-English bilingual speakers recall Arabic and English prefixed and suffixed verbs differently. To investigate this, the study was conducted in the form of two experiments on a group of 10 graduate students. The first experiment was on Arabic prefixed and suffixed verbs, whereas the second experiment was conducted similarly on English. The study concluded that suffixed Arabic verbs were recalled more than the prefixed ones, whereas in English the result was contrary where the participants could recall prefixed verbs more than the suffixed ones. This shows that L2 (Second Language) does not differ from L1 (First Language) in the effort exerted to recall words. Rather, the findings may suggest that it is easier to recall words in the second language, which might be due to the intensive instruction received in the second language. The study also discovered that several other factors played important roles in making the participants recall the items such as word-length effect, frequency and recency of the words.



Arabic-English bilinguals, working memory, recalling verbs, prefixed verbs, suffixed verbs

Full Text:



Ardila , A. , Rosselli , M. , Ostrosky-Solis , F. , Marcos , J. , Granda , G. , & Soto ,M. ( 2000 ). Syntactic comprehension, verbal memory, and calculation abilities in Spanish–English bilinguals . Applied Neuropsychology , 7 , 3 – 16 . doi:10.1207/S15324826AN0701_2.

Baddeley, A.D. (1966). The influence of acoustic and semantic similarities on long-term memory for word sequences. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 18(4), 302-309

Baddeley, A. D. (1986). Working memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Baddeley, A. D. (2000). The episodic buffer: A new component of working memory? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4, 417-423.

Baddeley, A.D. (2003) Working memory and language: An overview. Journal of Communication Disorders, 36, 189–208.

Baddely, A. D., Gathercole, S., & Papagno (1998). The Phonological loop as a language learning device. Psychological Review, 105 (1), 158-173

Baddeley A. D. & Hitch G. (1974). Working memory. In Bower GH (Ed.), The Psychology of learning and motivation (pp. 47-89). Vol. 8. New York: Academic Press.

Baddeley, A. D., Lewis, V., & Vallar, G. (1984). Exploring the articulatory loop. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 36A, 233–252

Baddeley, A. D., Thomson, N., & Buchanan, M. (1975). Word length and the structure of short-term memory. Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior, 14, 575-589.

Bjork R. A., & Whitten, W. B. (1974). Recency sensitive retrieval processes in long-term free recall. Cognitive Psychology 6, 173-189.

Bloom, L. C., & Watkins, M. J. (1999). Two-component theory of the suffix effect: Contrary findings. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 25(5), 1452-1474.

Brodie, D. A., & Murdock, B. B. (1977). Effects of presentation time on nominal and functional serial position curves in free recall. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 16 (2), 185–200. doi:10.1016/s0022-5371(77)80046-7.

Burgess, N., & Hitch, G. J. (1992). Toward a network model of the articulatory loop. Journal of Memory and Language, 31, 429–460.

Campoy, G. (2008). The effect of word length in short-term memory: Is rehearsal necessary? The Quarterly Journal of Psychological Experiment, 61 (5), 724-734

Carroll, D. W. (2008). Psychology of language. London: Thomson Wadsworth.

Clause, Ch. (2010).Primacy Effect in Psychology: Definition, Lesson & Quiz. Retrieved October 19, 2014, from

Cohen-Mimran, R., Adwan-Mansour, J., & Sapir, S. (2013). The effect of the morphological complexity on verbal working memory: results from Arabic speaking children. Journal of psycholinguist research 43(3), 239-253.

Conrd, R. & Hull, A. J. (1964). Information, acoustic confusion, and memory span. British Journal of Psychology, 55 (4), 429-432.

Copeland, D. E., & Radvansky, G. A. ( 2001). Phonological similarity in working memory. Memory & Cognition, 29(5), 774-776.

Dallett, K. M. (1965). The effects of redundancy upon digit repletion. Psychonomic Science 3 (1), 237

Daneman, M., & Robbie, C. (1981). Syntactic form, semantic complexity, and short-term memory: Influences on children's acquisition of new linguistic structures. Developmental Psychology 17(4), 367-378.

Ellis, N. C., & Hennely, R. A. (1980). A bilingual word-length effect: Implications for intelligence testing and the relative case of mental calculation in welsh and English. British Journal of Psychology 71(1), 43-51

Field, J. (2003). Psycholinguistics: a resource book for students. London: Roultedge Taylor & Francis Group.

Foster, K. J., & Chambers, S. M. (1973). Lexical access and naming time. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal behavior, 12, 627-635.

Gathercole, S. E., & Baddeley, A. D. (1993). Working memory and language. New York: Psychology Press

Gleason, J. B., &Raner, N. B. (1998). Psycholinguistics. For Worth: Harcout Brace College Publisher.

Glenberg, A.M. et al., (1980). A two-process account of long-term serial position effects. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 6(4), 355–369. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.6.4.355

Green, R. L. (1987). Stimulus suffixes and visual presentation. Memory & Cognition 15(6), 497-503.

Howard, M. W., & Kahana, M. J. (1999). Contextual variability and serial position effects in Free recall. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 24(4), 923-941.

Howard, M. W., & Kahana, M. J. (2002). A distributed representation of temporal context. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 46(3), 269-299

Keijzer, M. (2013). Working Memory Capacity, Inhibitory Control and the Role of L2 Proficiency in Aging L1 Dutch Speakers of Near-Native L2 English. Brain Sciences (2076-3425), 3(3), 1261-1281. doi:10.3390/brainsci3031261

Lee, Ch., Oh, J., Pyun, S,., & Lim, H. (2009). The effects of working memory load on word frequency. Journal of the Korea Academia-Industrial cooperation Society10 (3), 567-571. doi: 10.5762/KAIS.2009.10.3.567

Madigna, S. (1971). Modality and recall order interactions in short-term memory for serial order. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 87(2), 294-296.

Majerus , S. , Poncelet , M. , Van der Linden , M. , & Weekes , B. S. ( 2008 ). Lexical learning in bilingual adults: the relative importance of short-term memory for serial order and phonological knowledge . Cognition , 107 (2), 395 – 419. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2007.10.003.

Malmberg, K. J., Steyvers, M., Stephens, J. D., & Shiffrin, R. M. (2002). Feature frequency effects in recognition memory. Memory & Cognition, 30(4), 607-613.

Marshal, P. H., & Werder, P. R. (1972). The effects of the elimination of rehearsal on primacy and recency. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 11 (5), 649-653.

Marslen-Wilson W. D., & Tyler L. K. (2007). Morphology, language and the brain: The decompositional substrate for language comprehension. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B Biol. Sci.362 (1481), 823–836

McKinnon, R., Allen, M., & Osterhout, L. (2003). Morphological decomposition involving non- productive morphemes: ERP evidence. Journal of Neuro Report 14(6), 883-886

Neath, I., & Knoedler, A. J. (1994). Distinctiveness and serial position effects in recognition and sentence processing. Journal of Memory and Language, 33 (6), 776-795

Parmentier, F. B., Tremblay, S., & Jones, D. M. (2004). Exloring the suffix effect in serial visuospatial short-term memory. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 11(2), 289-295

Penny, C. G. (1975). Modality effects in short-term verbal memory. Psychological bulletin, 82(1), 68-84.

Rastle, K., & Davis, M. H. (2008). Morphological decomposition based on the analysis of orthography. Language and Cognitive Process, 23(7), 942-971.

Rundus, D. (1971). An analysis of rehearsal processes in free recall. Journal of Experimental Psychology 89(1), 63–77. doi:10.1037/h0031185.

Service, E., & Maury, S. (2014). Differential recall of derived and inflected word forms in working memory: Examining the role of morphological information in simple and complex working memory tasks. Front Hum Neurosci 8 (1064). doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.01064

Service , E. , Simola , M. , Metsänheimo , O. , & Maury , S. ( 2002 ). Bilingual working memory span is affected by language skill. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology , 14 (3), 383 – 408 . doi:10.1080/09541440143000140.

Service, E., & Tujulin, A.M. (2002). Recall of morphologically complex forms is affected by memory task but not dyslexia. Brain Language 81 (1-3), 42-54.

Shiffrin, R. M., & Steyvers, M. (1997). A model for recognition memory: REM—Retrieving Effectively from memory. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 4, 145-166

Taft, M., & Forster, K. I. (1975). Lexical storage and retrieval of prefixed words. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 14, 638-647.

Taylor, A. K. (2013). Encyclopedia of human memory. California: ABC-CLIO, LLC.

Veinovic, D., Milin, P., & Zdravcoic, S. (2010). Effects of proficiency and age of language acquisition on working memory performance in bilinguals. PSIHOLOGIJA,43(3), 219-232.

Wen, Z. (2012) Working memory and second language learning. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 22, 1–22.

Wen, Z. Z., Mota, M. B., & Mcneill, A. (2015). Working memory in second language acquisition and processing. bristol: multilingual matters.

Whaley, C. P. (1978). Word-noword classification time. Journal Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 17, 143-154.

Zechmeister, E. B. (1972). Orthographic distinctiveness as a variable in word recognition. American Journal of Psychology, 85, 425-430.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.